Chinese TV is ignoring a billion people

By Farman Nawaz Source:Global Times Published: 2014-8-5 20:08:03

For the past year I have been trying to find a research topic about journalism in China. But due to cultural differences and the language barrier, I could not find any topic according to my taste and expertise. One day I was astonished to see a long list of Chinese TV channels on Wikipedia. However, the most disappointing aspect was the absence of an Urdu/Hindi TV Channel, the language which is understood in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman, as well as among millions of South Asians who live in Western countries. It is shocking that a growing economy like China can ignore the easy and direct method of approaching more than 1 billion people, mostly living in consumer economies. It is the age of technology and marketing. How can China, having sufficient technology and resources, ignore the consumer markets in the neighborhood? Even though Chinese ambitions are not like those of Western capitalist economies, ignoring direct communication with the people of neighboring countries is regrettable. Even if we ignore the need to promote Chinese products,  the political aspect of ignoring one-seventh of world population is awful. It is the age of propaganda, and media is a tool that can easily give access to foreign audiences on the one hand, and influence local public opinion on the other. Indian Cinema is successful in the sense that it has kept its people in touch with the local media by providing hundreds of channels and a variety of films which range from art movies to adult films. Even English films are dubbed with Hindi, and these films are then watched not only in India but also Pakistan. To counter the wave of Indian propaganda, Pakistani TV channels have also started dubbing Turkish dramas in Urdu, and these dramas are very popular in Pakistan. A Chinese Urdu channel could easily penetrate into the one-seventh of the world’s population. US film companies have started investing in Hindi films to get a share in the growing film industry of India. Similarly, in this age of a dying newspaper industry, many Western newspapers have started their online editions, and special attention is given to Urdu and Hindi versions of the newspapers, so as to get in touch with one-seventh of the world’s population. The globalization of media will not go toward the imposition of the English language, but rather it will give birth to investment in other languages in media. China is cautious in expressing its political views on a global level, so starting an Urdu/Hindi news channel would lead to a debate in Chinese power circles. But the idea of an Urdu/Hindi entertainment TV channel may get the attention of Chinese media management authorities. Instead of purchasing old dramas from the Pakistani or Indian TV channels, Chinese dramas could be dubbed into Urdu easily to start with. However, the new Urdu/Hindi movies could also be purchased, and that would surely get the attention of viewers in South Asia. A joint venture of Indian, Pakistani and Chinese artists could be started to make new dramas. Instances of such efforts have not yet occurred, and it could lead to a new approach and outlook for Chinese TV channels. Some common aspects of our societies can be identified, so we could develop entertainment programs which would lead to the promotion of harmony in the neighboring societies of China. Creating homogeneous aspects in heterogeneous societies will surely solve the problems of separatism and extremism effectively. The benefits of an Urdu/Hindi Channel are numerous, however, the reason why so far China has not taken the initiative to establish an Urdu/Channel is not known. China has a vested interest in the neighborhood. The channel would help with not only relations with neighboring countries. It may also perhaps helps in border disputes with India, Chinese investments in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and trade routes from China’s industrial bases to India. These are all issues that need interaction with the general masses of neighboring countries. The author is a Pakistani columnist and runs an Urdu weekly newspaper Jirga in Pakistan.

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