If we are seen in Chinese media, they will come
Gwyneth Harold Davidson, Contributor
Imagine a seven-minute Caribbean slot on China Central Television's (CCTV) December 31 variety show where Jamaica Cultural Development Commission 2010 World Reggae Dance Champions, Anonymous, open for the Soca Queen Destra who is joined by entertainer, Beenie Man, in Caribbean 'fashion-over-style'.
Unlike the Chinese New Year gala, the December 31 show is a huge television event that features foreign entertainers. Media is where the Caribbean can use the performing arts to attract the attention of Chinese consumers and open the door wider for trade.
According to China Daily, CCTV is the leading broadcaster in China with an audience of 1.2 billion across seven of China's top-10 television channels. Like all Chinese media, CCTV is state-owned, but advertising revenue plays a significant role in programming decisions
Exposing Caribbean culture on Chinese websites is also not to be overlooked. The English departments of the Beijing-based news organisations China.org and Radio China, encourage Caribbean journalists to become correspondents and opinion writers, providing an opportunity for Caribbean content to be more available to a Chinese audience. This also overcomes a regional dearth of Chinese-speaking writers, agents and entrepreneurs. A report filed by a St Lucian journalist a few days following the recent devastation by Hurricane Tomas was carried by China.org.
Chinese broadcasters are also expanding into our media markets and will need to attract our viewership. Professor Tian Zhihui of the Communication University of China told Caribbean journalists participating in the Professional Programme for Journalists from Caribbean Countries in Beijing last October, that in 2003, China made a great leap towards making their media more prominent around the world.
"At the moment, the Chinese government would not allow any private company to come. And, what's more, the Chinese government would like to go out to invest money in the foreign media companies. The Government now has invested 900 billion yuan to explore the overseas market," Professor Tian added.
In the region, Suriname Chinese Television is already two years old and Professor Tian said that many more will emerge in Latin America within the next decade. It was announced in April that CCTV, already available on Jamaican cable, had indicated a strong interest in starting a radio and television station in Jamaica as a way to deepen appreciation between the cultures.
Professor Tian said that although China filters content on the Internet available to its citizens, the Internet has had an undeniable impact in helping to advance openness in China. She quoted the China Internet Network Information Centre's, 2010 Statistical Report, that in June 2010 there were 420 million net citizens in China and 277 million using Internet on their mobile phones. A clear indication of the impact of the Internet is the adoption of the Chinese version of the Access to Information Act in May 2008.
Professor Tian says now public officials, including police officers, are encouraged to blog and be a part of the online conversations as a way to be in closer touch with their communities and social partners.
Chinese web-application developers currently benefit from an environment where they only compete against each other. The best of their products in online shopping services, social networking, music downloading and blogging thrive and support their domestic market. Caribbean content, again, can make a mark here if the correct market links are made to place them where Chinese consumers go online. Jamaican music has, for some time, benefited from Japanese entrepreneurs maintaining an online presence in their markets.
Expansion into global broadcasting and growth of Chinese domestic Internet is an opportunity for Caribbean content to find a space in China. Their media seek intriguing material for a public that desires to know the best of the world. The Internet flattened the globe, let us set sail and let our intangible cultural treasures attract trade with the East.
Gwyneth Harold is a journa-list. Feedback may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org