Handbook of Cultural and Creative Industries in China
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Handbook of Cultural and Creative Industries in China

Edited by Michael Keane

China is at the crux of reforming, professionalising, and internationalising its cultural and creative industries. These industries are at the forefront of China’s move towards the status of a developed country. In this comprehensive Handbook, international experts including leading Mainland scholars examine the background to China’s cultural and creative industries as well as the challenges ahead. The chapters represent the cutting-edge of scholarship, setting out the future directions of culture, creativity and innovation in China. Combining interdisciplinary approaches with contemporary social and economic theory, the contributors examine developments in art, cultural tourism, urbanism, digital media, e-commerce, fashion and architectural design, publishing, film, television, animation, documentary, music and festivals.
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Chapter 25: Commercial and digital transformation of Chinese television

Ruoyun Bai


Commercial television in China has evolved out of a geographically and administratively fragmented broadcasting system owned by various levels of government. At each stage of development the state has played a crucial role creating conditions for, and modulating the speed and boundaries of commercialization. In this way the television system commercialized in the 1980s and 1990s without letting go its core mandate, i.e. serving as the Chinese Communist Party’s (hereafter CCP) mouthpiece. The coexistence of two core directives – politics and profit – led to a dual identity. Television was meant to be a public institution (shiye) run as a business enterprise (qiye). This dual identity provided ideological legitimacy for commercial television while allowing stations to profit handsomely from a rapidly expanding national economy and consumer society. Meanwhile it also imposed a limit to how far commercialization could proceed. In the wake of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO ), the dual identity began to dissolve as a result of political, economic and technological forces. Chinese television has remained state-owned-and-regulated but it is no longer ‘a public institution run as a business.’ Then what does the new identity look like and how is it achieved? In this chapter I review the commercialization of Chinese television from the analytical standpoint of ‘dual identity.’ Two key cultural policies deserve special attention: (1) the ‘cultural system reform’ and (2) the ‘media convergence’ reforms within the ambitious state initiative called ‘Internet+.’

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