【英语中国】中国央视的角色挣扎

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所属分类:双语中国

2013-11-28 08:46

小艾摘要: At the end of October, a young journalist in handcuffs, green prison jacket and a freshly shaved head appeared on China Central Television, the state-owned national broadcaster, and confessed to takin ...
At the end of October, a young journalist in handcuffs, green prison jacket and a freshly shaved head appeared on China Central Television, the state-owned national broadcaster, and confessed to taking bribes in exchange for writing negative articles about a large Chinese company.

Just days earlier, the newspaper that employed Chen Yongzhou, 27, had published front-page headlines calling for his release, while human rights groups had mobilised to defend him. But after his admission on television, the issue quickly died away.

Mr Chen’s is the latest in a series of televised public pre-trial confessions on CCTV in recent months that has included British and US citizens.

The performances, reminiscent of an earlier age in which political “struggle sessions” and show trials were the norm, have raised concerns in China about the damage they cause to the government’s stated goal of improving the rule of law.

But they have also raised an important question about the role of the state broadcaster and the balance it must strike as a global media organisation, a moneymaking venture and a political mouthpiece for the Communist party.

The question is increasingly important to multinationals such as Apple, KFC, Volkswagen, Starbucks and Samsung, which in the past year have all been accused by the broadcaster of malfeasance or unfair practices in China.

For big global companies, understanding why they have been singled out and on whose orders is crucial to avoiding one of the most dangerous pitfalls that can befall their business.

In a recent book, Two Billion Eyes: The Story of China Central Television, author Ying Zhu says: “CCTV is full of serious-minded creators who regularly experience bouts of self-doubt, philosophical ambivalence and in some cases clinical depression.”

She adds there are “certain common themes, about ideals distorted or altogether thwarted by commercial and political pressure”.

Founded in 1958 as the country’s first TV station, CCTV did not convert to colour or extend its programming beyond a couple of hours in the evenings until the late 1970s.

In 1978, fewer than 10m Chinese people had access to a TV, but today CCTV boasts more than 1bn potential viewers for its 45 channels that broadcast mostly soap operas, historical dramas and variety shows.

The broadcaster earns billions of dollars a year in advertising revenue and its state funding is only a minor part of its budget.

But it remains a vice-ministerial level government department and is always led by a senior Communist party official who has come up through the party propaganda system.

The current head, Hu Zhanfan, raised eyebrows in 2011 when he declared that the “first and foremost social responsibility [of journalists] is to serve well as a mouthpiece tool; this is the most core content of the Marxist view of journalism and it is the most fundamental of principles”.

According to current and former CCTV employees, the pervasive censorship and political orders make it easy to become jaded.

So when staff are presented with a chance to make money through unethical, or in some cases illegal, deals the temptation is heightened by this sense of disillusionment.

“The corruption inside CCTV is extremely serious,” says Hu Yong, an associate professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at Peking University and a former CCTV employee. “[CCTV employees] will blackmail interviewees by threatening to expose them publicly or they will become public advocates for their interview subjects in exchange for economic benefits.”

Shi Feike, a journalist who once had close ties with CCTV, has a more nuanced view. “The corruption inside CCTV is not necessarily more serious than in any other monopolistic state-owned enterprise in China,” he says. “There are many highly professional and ethical staff working at CCTV and the situation varies depending on the department, the channel and the individual programme.”

CCTV said: “CCTV has strict requirements regarding its employees’ professional ethics, and employs comprehensive disciplinary measures to restrict their activities. No matter if it is reporting on Chinese companies or foreign companies, our station always adheres to the principles of objectivity and fairness.

“If you pay attention to our station’s programming, you will find that our station broadcasts a large quantity of supervision-type and exposure-type programmes, and most of them are about Chinese domestically-produced products and brands.”

In the wake of food and product safety scandals, CCTV has become a self-appointed public watchdog, with a focus on the transgressions of multinationals operating in China.

In recent weeks, the broadcaster has targeted smartphone maker Samsung for allegedly unfair after-sales policies, while earlier this year it directed similar charges against Apple that prompted the company to apologise.

Other companies such as KFC, McDonald’s, Volkswagen, and Walmart have all been targeted by similar reports that appear to concentrate less on Chinese companies, in particular state-owned monopolies that are often derided for substandard products.

“The reasons for this bias towards reporting [negatively] on foreign companies are complicated; sometimes it is political as in the case of Google, often it is rent-seeking [pushing a company to buy advertising or pay bribes] and sometimes it is just the path of least resistance,” says Mr Shi. “They cannot touch state enterprises because they will be censored so it is much safer to beat up on foreign companies.”

But negative campaigns do not always have the desired effect.

In late October, CCTV lambasted Starbucks for overcharging Chinese consumers for its coffee.

With more than 1,000 outlets across China and plans for it to become its second-largest market after the US by next year, Starbucks wants to avoid a fight with the propaganda apparatus.

But the report was mostly greeted with derision rather than public outrage.

“Coffee is not a necessity for life, the price is determined by the market and it is up to Starbucks to charge what it wants,” said one user of China’s Twitter-like Weibo service. “If CCTV really cares about high prices why can’t they pay attention to prices that are actually related to people’s livelihoods?”

10月底,一名头被剃光年轻记者戴着手铐,身穿绿囚衣,出现在中国国有的全国性电视台——中国中央电视台(CCTV)播出的画面中,他承认自己收取了好处费,撰写了一系列针对国内一家大型企业的负面报道。

早几天的时候,陈永洲所在的报社在报纸头版头条位置刊发文章,呼吁放人,同时人权团体也动员起来为他辩护。但现年27岁的陈永洲在电视上认罪之后,此事迅速平息下去。

最近几个月,有多名涉案人士(包括英国籍与美国籍公民)未经法院审判,便在央视的节目里公开认罪,陈永洲便是其中之一。

这些事件让人回想起政治“批斗大会”和作秀审判盛行的那个年代。中国有些人担心这种做法会损害政府提出的完善法治的目标。

这个现象同时也引出了一个重要问题:作为国家电视台,中国央视是如何定义自己角色的?它如何在全球性媒体机构、营利性组织和中共政治喉舌这三个角色之间取得平衡?

对苹果(Apple)、肯德基(KFC)、大众(Volkswagen)、星巴克(Starbucks)和三星(Samsung)等跨国企业来说,这是个日益重要的问题。过去一年里,这几家跨国企业都曾被央视指责在中国市场上存在不法行为或者不公正做法。

对跨国大企业而言,理解自己何以“中枪”以及这是出自谁的授意,对于避免可能面对的最危险局面之一具有至关重要的作用。

朱颍在最近出版的《二十亿只眼睛:中国中央电视台的故事》(Two Billion Eyes: The Story of China Central Television)中说:“央视有很多思想严肃的创作者,他们经常产生自我怀疑、哲学矛盾,有时会患上临床抑郁症。”

她补充道,央视内部存在“一些共性问题——在商业与政治压力之下,理想不是被扭曲,就是变得一文不值”。

央视成立于1958年,是中国第一家电视台。在上世纪70年代末以前,央视还没开始播放彩色节目,播放时间也仅限于晚间两三小时。

1978年,能看上电视的中国人还不到1000万,但现在央视的潜在观众人数超过10亿人。央视有45个频道,大部分节目是肥皂剧、历史剧和综艺节目。

央视每年广告收入达到数十亿美元,国家拨款只占其预算的一小部分。

央视还是一个副部级政府机构,台长通常由在中共宣传系统中晋升的党内高级干部担任。

中国央视的现任台长胡占凡曾在2011年说过:“(新闻工作者的)第一位的社会责任是当好喉舌工具,这是马克思主义新闻观最核心的内容,也是最根本的原则。”这番话引来了非议。

一些在职和离任的央视员工表示,无处不在的审查和政治命令,很容易把人搞得疲惫不堪。

因为这种幻灭感,当员工们有机会通过不道德的(有时是非法的)手段赚钱时,诱惑就显得更大。

曾在央视任职、现为北京大学新闻与传播学院副教授的胡泳说:“央视内部腐败现象极端严重。一些央视工作人员会敲诈被访者,威胁对他们进行曝光,或者公开吹捧受访对象,以换取经济上的好处。”

一位笔名为石扉客的记者曾与央视有密切关系,他说得更加透彻。他说:“央视内部的腐败未必就比中国任何一家垄断国企更严重。有很多专业水平高、道德责任感强的人在央视工作。各个不同的部门、频道和节目组,情况都各有不同。”

央视表示:“中央电视台对员工的职业道德有严格的要求,以全面的纪律手段约束员工的行为。我台无论报道国内公司,还是报道海外公司,一贯遵循客观公正的原则。”

“如果你关注我台的节目,你就会发现我台播发了大量监督类和曝光类节目,其中大部分都是关于中国国内的产品和品牌的。”

在食品与产品安全丑闻频发之后,央视已成为一家自命的公共监督机构,着重于揭露跨国公司在华的不端行为。

近几周来,央视把矛头指向了智能手机制造商三星,指责其实行不公平的售后政策。而在今年早些时候,央视对苹果提出了类似指控,后来苹果公开致歉。

肯德基、麦当劳(McDonald’s)、大众和沃尔玛(Walmart)等其他外国企业,都成了类似报道的对象。这些报道似乎比较少关注中国国内企业,尤其是那些经常被嘲讽产品质量低下的国有垄断企业。

石扉客说:“这种针对外企进行(负面)报道的倾向,背后的原因很复杂。有时是政治原因,比如谷歌(Google)事件,很多时候则是为了寻租(促使一家公司买广告或给予好处),有时只是因为这么做阻力最小。他们动不了国企,因为节目会被审查,矛头对准外企可就安全多了。”

但负面的公司报道并非总能起到预期效果。

10月底,央视痛批星巴克咖啡对中国消费者定价过高。

星巴克在中国境内已开设了1000多家门店,并计划明年把中国市场发展成仅次于美国本土的第二大市场。星巴克不愿与央视这家宣传机构发生冲突。

但关于星巴克的报道更多受到了嘲讽,而非引起公众的愤怒。

在中国国内类似于Twitter的新浪微博(Weibo)上,一名用户说:“咖啡不是生活必需品,价格是由市场决定的,星巴克定价多高是它自己的事。如果央视真的关心物价,为何不关注那些确实关系到民生的物价呢?”

译者/何黎

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