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Television Industry Development and Its Effect in the Contemporary Chinese Society

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APSS1B17: Contemporary Chinese Society and Popular Culture

with English Writing Requirements

(Cheng Chung Tai)


Submission: 20 Apr 2016 (WED)

[Television industry development and its effect in the Contemporary Chinese Society]

Word count:  [2521] words

Student Name:

Ho Tin Yau

Student ID:


Group ID:



20 Apr 2016


One of the oldest culture in the world, China, it is the district in which ruling covers a wide geographical territory in eastern Asia with habits and traditional in between the countries. In 1978, China started the implementation of “Reform and opening up” program which led by Deng Xiao Ping in 1978 and since, the popular culture started exploding at that moment. The Chinese society have sprung up such electronic devices as mobile phones, television and internet and those technologies brought the Chinese to the new generation.

This essay is the review of the book - Pop Culture China! Media, Arts, and Lifestyle, which is written by Kevin Latham in 2007.  This book offers the introduction and overview to some of the key areas of the overview of the contemporary Chinese popular cultural by dividing in 15 areas, including the television, radio, internet, movie and the sports and martial arts and the other leisure activities. For example, the movie culture, it changed from the plethora of Cantonese/Beijing opera to the theatre which projects the western movie; or the other changing from tradition to modernization of Chinese society in different aspects. He also discussed about the rise of consumption and consumerism nowadays in the China society.

The author of the book, Kevin Latham, who is the senior lecturer in the University of London and he is also the scholar of Chinese culture. His research has raised academic issues of knowledge, performance, governmentality and mediated citizenship along with his scholarship and reporting and hence giving the reader an extensive, actual, and accosting explanation to different aspects of popular culture in China. And the most important of his work has also sought and brought some predominant stereotypical question and the answer related to the propaganda and the political control of the Chinese media.

Due to the scope of this book review, this article focuses on the television system in China. So, in the following part, the definition of the “popular culture” and the discussion about the development with the function of Television will be included. Furthermore, a critical analysis of the Television Industry in China and the conclusion will be discussed in the last part of the essay.

The term “television” can be used to refer to several kinds of audiovisual communication systems. These include over-the-air broadcasting, cable or satellite television broadcasting (Marc, D, 2016). Television has pioneered the marketization of the media all over the globe, especially in China. Nowadays, almost every Chinese family has a television set, and television is the main source of news and entertainment for most Chinese. In China, Television is the best way to intense atmosphere of socialist and revolutionary ideologies to the citizen’s mind. China's mass media have been known as the “mouthpiece of the authorities.” TV stations are managed by itself, but it is controlled by the government. 

Definition of Popular Culture

In this book and book review, “popular” culture is denoted as enjoyment for general public, in contrast to the concept of high culture with a narrower appeal (Latham, 2007). In addition, both market-determined and politically interfaced culture activities are regarded as popular culture (Latham, 2007). The savour and feeling of the general masses of people can reflect by or suited to the commercial products and the popular culture. Tom Gold has written:

I use “popular culture” to refer to cultural products produced for the mass market, which reflect market-determined popular taste and are for enjoyment. This is in contrast to more elite or high culture which has a much narrower appeal and poses more of an intellectual challenge to the consumer. It is also in contrast to politically contrived directed culture. (Gold, 1993, P.908).

Popular culture is the cumulative market of the mass media (television, radio) and the leisure activities, such as music, art, literature, fashion, dance, film. The above-mentioned are fascinated basically by working class, or non-elite class. There are the sociological arguments in relation to popular culture (Crossman, 2014, P.132), that popular culture is used by the elites or government (who control the flow of the popular culture or mass media) and to control those below them because the popular culture can easily embed people’s thinking and their brain, and the finally results are making the non-elite class more passive and comfort to manage.

Contemporary Television Media in China

Television are "the main means through which the citizens of a nation become informed about the issues of the day, and can have access to reasoned debate about them, and hence the media institutions are an important part of the democratic process itself." (Abercrombie and Warde, 2000, P.369)

Television has is a fully established news, information and entertainment medium, and the flow of programming to Chinese-speaking populations around the world has increased. Almost every Chinese family has a television nowadays, and for most family, television is the major provenience of news and leisure. Furthermore, it also has pioneered the marketization of the media. Thus, Management and operation in broadcast media is becoming important.

Refer to Kevin Latham, there are almost 100% of the household can received to the television network in the cities and even in the countryside, the figure is more than 90%. The author proved that there are three reasons why the development of television increased rapidly in the post-Mao reform period. The first being is the economic reform by the Chinese government, the followed by are the consumer desire and spending power of the Chinese.

After the Chinese economic reform was announced by Deng, there are a lots of reasons inured or contributed to the growth and blooming of TV industry in China. As the above-mentioned, the reform by Deng is the most important reason above all. After his policies from around 1980, the economic has became a great success in China, the populace start notice the important of entertainment since they earned their first pot of gold. The ordinary starts to save their earning for a color-television, at the same time, as manufacturers of the color-television enhanced and ameliorated the production method, television became more easily affordable to Chinese people step by step, even if TV set were still not inexpensive in the 80s. However, is television just containing the function of leisure and entertainment only?



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