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China: New news anchors for a new decade

As with many mainstays of Chinese Communist Party infrastructure, the surreally socialist China Central Television (CCTV) faces an increasingly uphill battle against non-Party competitors. Viewers are increasingly drawn to privately-run television stations which dare to air many stories authorities would rather see ignored.

Factor in the growing numbers of—urban, educated—Chinese who choose the news offered by large portal sites such as Sina or Sohu and it's no wonder so many CCTV news presenters often have stone-cold faces. Or maybe announcing the same ideologically correct stories for two or three decades will do that to a person.

In a move welcomed across the country, two smiling new anchorpersons took their seats earlier this week in announcing CCTV's primetime nightly national news broadcast.

CCTV\'s Li Zimeng and Kang Hui

Here's what Bokee blogger KangKang had to say:


Who should be doing CCTV's News Broadcast news anchoring?


At a dinner party last night, it just happened that CCTV announcer Xu Wumei (胥午梅) was there. She mentioned that CCTV News Broadcast had just changed to two new announcers. The man is Kang Hui (康辉) and the woman is Li Zimeng (李梓萌). Ha. These two younglings are a great pick.


Actually, of the women who could have been News Broadcast announcers, aside from Li Zimeng there's also Yang Chen (杨晨) and Xu Wumei, both of whom speak very quickly when announcing and with a very neutral tone. Choices for announcer one wouldn't go wrong with.


But CCTV is too conservative; even after ten years News Broadcast announcers still won't be changed, wearing out both the announcers and the viewers.


Yang Chen, for example, who I happen to like. With such big eyes, when she first starting announcing the news it seemed she was very nervous. But over these past few years she's really come into her own, along with Kang Hui. Li Zimeng is also a reason I often watch the news at noon; I've seen a lot of her programs. International Update, Culture Bulletin, shows with great content and with which I'm quite familiar. Although she often blinks and shakes her head, at least the old news broadcast faces have been replaced.


Xu Wumei is okay too. For almost all of 1996-7 I could only watch the news at noon, and the voices I was most used to were those of Xu Wumei and Lang Yongchun (郎永淳). The changes seen in the announcers of the daily half-hour news are clear to all. Xu Wumei used to have bangs, but has changed now to a short and puffy hairdo. A lot has changed in ten years. Especially with Lang Yongchun, the big pair of glasses, that very special voice. All can be seen on News Broadcast.


With the News Broadcast announcers, I think the most important isn't their vocational ability, but whether or not they look the way news announcers should. The people I mentioned above are true announcers through and through. Now that they're no longer announcing, it seems they cannot find roles which suit them. Although Xu Wumei sings a mean Beijing Opera. Ha ha.

While the oft-read KangKang's post didn't garner many comments, much more a conversation could be seen at controversial Sina blogger He Weifang's (贺卫方) post on the same subject:


A pair of new anchorpersons finally comes


Yesterday, CCTV News Broadcast finally changed to two fresh anchorpersons; I've seen a lot of buzz on the internet. Although the related departments say this has nothing to do with representatives of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference proposing during Liang Hui for certain older anchorpersons too long ‘on set’ to be recalled, many people still hope that decades-old faces like Xing Zhibin had left earlier. Today, however, I made sure to catch the beginning of News Broadcast. Seems old lady Xing has put on her suit of armor. Although her facial expressions are a bit unnatural, one can still feel a sort of ‘old age martyr, strong hearts never stop’ heroism. Now that the old woman won't be stepping down, let's see how long we can bear it!


Some people have used the tendency of western television states to use older anchorpersons as an excuse to protect ours. This completely confuses the differences between different types of television. Our anchorpersons are just a microphone; they're just announcers, no need at all for any thinking. That said, even better would be to make this a more youthful occupation, let attractive men and women have their turn. At least allow people feel the anchorpersons are easier on the eyes. This might just be a strategic move towards increasing viewers of Broadcast News.


That's why I suggest Comrade Xing step down. Her worries lie in provoking hostility, choicest option lies in quitting while ahead.


Another suggestion would be to continually change the announcers. Replace them all each month, for example, and give youth nationwide a chance to appear on camera. Might even work with other programs like Super Girl, give Li Yuchun or Zhang Liangying chances to show their talents too.



…[a]ctually, aside from sports, CCTV programs are all trash, nobody watches them

新闻联播?N年没有看啦,我们广东这边可以说几乎没有人看。香港那么丰富的电视节目和资讯信息,还会有人看那白 痴新闻联播吗?

News Broadcast? Haven't seen it for several years now. Here in Guangdong practically nobody watches it. Hong Kong, with such an abundance of television programs and information updates, does anybody really watch that idiotic News Broadcast anymore?


I've never watched News Broadcast, but after changing to these current faces it might be easier on the eyes. Too long a time and it feels worn out, might as well keep changing and stop me from forgetting about News Broadcast altogether. Agh! The most depressing of all is that we can't even get Pheonix TV from where I live.


But speaking of this, I feel the News Broadcast announcers don't mean much to youth today. Of me and my friends, nobody watches News Broadcast. By seven every night most of us are hunched in front of our computers.


On this point I don't agree with Mr. He's views. There's no doubt that CCTV is The Party's mouthpiece, but grade-A programs like News Broadcast still needs a few old faces around. It will give people a sense of safety and stability. News is not entertainment, that's why there should be a strict differentiation between it and commercial media images like Super Girls—just like sushi needs both seafood and vegetables!
  • G. Stolyarov II

    Thank you for the interesting post.

    Competition from private entities might gradually lead the Party networks to change their basic approach and be socialist in name only. In the age of cable television and the Internet, it is virtually impossible to suppress dissenting and competing views—though the Chinese government has tried. If the Party wishes to retain popularity among the Chinese people, it will need to gradually begin to liberalize its policies—including its approach toward the media.

    I am
    G. Stolyarov II

    For interesting discussions of current events and business in China, see ZhongHuaRising:

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