National Networks in Race to Woo Global Viewers

    January 30, 2009 09:54

    Broadcasters around the world are racing to increase programming geared to international audiences.

    Starting on Feb. 2, Japan's NHK is boosting NHK World TV, the channel for global viewers, by extending the hourly news program from 15 minutes to half an hour and replacing dubbed Japanese news with its own original English-language reports. NHK plans to beam out its programs beyond the United States and Europe to China, Latin America and Africa, securing a global viewership of 125 million households. Then ultimate aim is to join the ranks of CNN and the BBC.

    China's state-run media organizations, with full government support, are also dreaming of global media empires. China's Ministry of Finance plans to spend 45 billion yuan (around W9 trillion, US$1=W1,375) to help the country's three major state news agencies -- Xinhua, CCTV and the People’s Daily -- establish new media and increase overseas coverage, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reports.

    Xinhua is almost doubling the number of overseas bureaus from 100 to 186 and forming a Chinese version of CNN airing international news 24 hours a day. CCTV, which broadcasts across the world in Chinese, English, French and Spanish, plans to establish Arabic and Russian language channels this year.

    Over in the Middle East, Doha-based Al Jazeera's 24-hour English news channel Al Jazeera English, consolidated its unrivaled position in Middle East news coverage in its reporting on the latest Gaza conflict. AP says CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times all filed stories quoting Al Jazeera English, and more than 60 percent of the channel's viewers during the war were Americans.

    In Europe, French international news channel France 24 is busy expanding its global reach supported by government funding. Established in December 2006 by then president Jacques Chirac, France 24 can currently be seen via satellite in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and on cable in New York and Washington D.C.

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