TV China Review

TV China
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TV China ReviewThe editors of this volume assign it to students and teachers of "undergraduate and graduate seminars devoted to Chinese television," but here's hoping that its audience will include large numbers of non-commissioned readers interested in good thinking about how large parts of the world work these days. One very large part is Chinese television, and here is a collection of twelve scholarly essays that neatly and in some places profoundly contemplates the contemporary dynamics and future implications of that vast and vastly transformed empire.

TV China's twelve chapters are arranged in four parts: Institution; Programming; Reception; and Going Global. These divisions reflect the editors' effort to provide a composite view capable of generating significant common themes. The themes that emerge address the forces that are transforming Chinese television, and the way that Chinese television, in turn, may be transforming China. Briefly, over the last couple of decades Chinese television has emerged as China's most popular medium. As a consequence of economic and technological transformations, it has developed into a much more complex institution, no longer simply a mouthpiece of the Chinese state. As one contributor puts it, Chinese television must now satisfy both "party logic" and "people logic." To the extent that responding to audience preferences and concerns has become critical for commercial reasons, television seems to be suborning something like increased public participation in China's political discourse. Editor Cris Berry's chapter is particularly engaging on this, delineating a "public space" inspired by documentary programming on Shanghai TV that doesn't fit neatly into classical "public sphere" and "civil society" frames but constitutes an important entry nevertheless. Editor Ying Zhu, meanwhile, closes the volume with a ranging contemplation of the implications of a Chinese television industry that is pursuing global interests even as global interests pursue the Chinese television market, adding a further degree of complexity. The upshot for Chinese television appears to be more players driven by more interests in a more open climate.
TV China Overview

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