Thursday, October 25, 2018

Chinese Long Haul in the African Media Market

The October 20, 2018 print edition of the Economist ran a story: “Chinese media in Africa: Soft power and censorship”. You can see at (, which is a the photo source).

The bulk of the article details how, in spite of major investments; the Chinese are not making much of a dent in the Chinese Media market. The Chinese Global TV Network (see: opened a bureau in Africa in 2012. They also launched a newspaper, China Daily Africa and ChinAfrica a magazine while half the journalists may be African, it’s clear that Beijing pulls the strings.

The article noted that there are always two editorial meetings at GCTN stations. The first for the general staff and the other is where the Chinese editors seek story approval from their Beijing masters.

While ‘old fashioned propaganda’ may have stalled, the article continues, the Chinese have embarked on a three-pronged approach to expand their interest.

1.     A mass training program for African journalists.
2.     Chinese investment in private companies such as the South Africa based Independent Media where the Chinese no have a 20% interest.
3.     Expansion of StarTimes, (see photo from website) a pay TV network now in 25 countries and claiming 24 million subscribers, a figure doubted by many experts.

What is interesting about StarTimes is its wide range of content which according to the article includes: “Chinese Super League football, kung-fu movies and soap operas. StarTimes even hosts competitions for African actors to dub dramas into languages such as Hausa and Swahili, a move few Western broadcasters have bothered with.”

It is the last activity that should pique the curiosity of the PSYOP community. By writing their own dramas the Chinese are subtlety deciding what people see and by making that ‘entertainment’ available in native languages while others do not, it’s clear to see how a long haul strategy will give the Chinese dominance in small market segments.

Of course small segments can serve as jump off points to bigger ones on the road to systematic domination of the larger market.

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