Xinhua, China's state news agency, said on Wednesday it had launched a trial run for an international English-language television news service as part of a drive to boost the country's image and global media influence.
Xinhua said its reporters across China and in more than 110 countries will produce domestic and international news that will be delivered to customers around the world at TV stations, Web sites, outdoor screens and to mobile users.
The move comes as the People's Daily also expands its international coverage, which said also on Wednesday in a front-page announcement that it was expanding from 16 pages to 20 pages, adding three pages on domestic and international news and one page of articles of theoretical studies, or arts and literature reviews.
Xinhua would interpret global events objectively and impartially from a Chinese angle and bring novel perspectives to foreign audiences, President Congjun Li said at the inauguration ceremony held on Wednesday.
Li said Xinhua would strive to become an important TV news supplier for the world's users. That would potentially make it a competitor to news agencies such as The Associated Press and ThomsonReuters which already provide television footage along with text stories and photographs to worldwide customers.
Xinhua, which is said to always toe the party line due to heavy government censorship, is trying to bring the English TV news service up to an international standard and actively work to make the service meet the requirements of foreign audience, according to Li.
During the 2003 SARS outbreak and Beijing Television Cultural Center fire, Xinhua was slow to report the incident and was beaten by Chinese citizen journalism. However reporting documenting the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake was seen in a positive light as more transparent and credible as Xinhua journalists operated relatively freely.
China, being criticized for strict limits on freedom of speech and civil and political life over the years, is finally determined to make a change. The new TV service could be an attempt to provide an alternative to Western media coverage of the country.
Xinhua English TV news service will feature a daily 90-minute news service and the time is expected to increase as it develops. The service will be formally launched on Dec. 31.
During its trial stage, the news service will be transmitted through satellite to Chinese users, while users in foreign countries will receive the signals through Internet.