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Facilitating Public Service Provision: The Emerging Role of Municipal Television News in China

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 February 2017

Dan Chen*
Affiliation:
Elizabethtown College. Email: chend@etown.edu.

Abstract

Despite strict state controls, negative news about local officials is reported in China. Faced with political constraints and the incentive and pressure to earn profits, municipal television news programmes have developed and adopted the life news model (minsheng xinwen), which aims to help citizens solve problems. The production process of this news model has transformed the political role of the broadcast media at the local level. Many life news reports focus on disputes between citizens and local officials. Thus, addressing citizen grievances essentially facilitates public service provision. Based on an ethnographic case study of a municipal television news programme, this article finds that the production process of life news reports can facilitate public service provision by correcting local officials’ behaviour, regardless of whether the news reports are eventually broadcast. This unintended role is a result of the power negotiation between local officials and journalists who face immense commercial pressure.

摘要

尽管中国新闻媒体受政府的控制, 关于地方官员的负面新闻并不少见。基于商业利润的诱惑和政治因素的限制, 市级电视台的新闻节目采取了民生新闻的模式, 注重帮百姓解决问题。民生新闻的制作过程转变了地方电视媒体的政治角色。许多民生新闻的报道着重于百姓与地方官员的纠纷, 所以帮百姓解决问题事实上是促进地方公共服务的提供。基于对一个对市级电视台的民族志个案研究, 本文发现通过纠正地方官员的行为, 民生新闻的制作过程能够促进公共服务的提供, 不管新闻故事是否最终播出。这个意料之外的政治角色是地方官员和承受商业压力的记者进行力量协商的结果。

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © SOAS University of London 2017 

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