8 PM, Beijing Time. Xin Wen Lian Bo blares across every local and national TV station in China. For years, China has had one centralized new source for everything – Xinhua in print and CCTV on TV. While local stations are mostly allowed freedom, at 8:00pm everyday, all channels are required to show CCTV’s daily news report. But perhaps not for long. Last year, Hunan TV appealed to SARFT, China’s governmental media agency, to be allowed to broadcast its own news report rather than that of CCTV’s. Or so it was rumored. Despite the falsehood of this rumor, the fact that people believed it showed how much Hunan TV’s prestige has risen. This is only one sign of the recent decentralization of Chinese media sources, especially in the rise of local channels in popularity as interest in the state media declined.
These local channels, spearheaded by Hunan TV, although still mostly state-owned stations, lack the formalities of CCTV and are allowed to be more creative.