CCTV (中央电视台) broadcast its first program on 2 September 1958. Due to increasing demands, it soon launched its second channel in 1963 and third channel in 1969, followed by the first simultaneous satellite broadcasts nationwide in 1972. Starting from 1 May 1973, Peking Television began broadcasting experimentally in color on its second channel every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday using the PAL-D system, and fully converted to color broadcasting by 1977. The network changed its name to CCTV on 1 May 1978.
Until the late 1970s, CCTV held only evening broadcasts, usually closing down at midnight. During the summer and winter academic vacations, it occasionally transmitted daytime programming for students. In 1980 CCTV experimented with news relays from local and central television studios via microwave. By 1985, CCTV had already become a leading television network in China. In 1987 CCTV's popularity soared due to the adaptation and presentation of Dream of the Red Chamber. The 36-episode TV series—the first Chinese television drama to enter the global market— still remains popular in the international market. In the same year, CCTV exported 10,216 programmes to 77 foreign television stations.
Initially, the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee issued directive censorship of programs. During reform in the 1990s, the Party adopted new standards for CCTV, "affordability" and "acceptability", loosening the previous government control. Affordability refers to purchasing ability of programs, while acceptability requires that a programme has acceptable content, preventing broadcasts of material that contains inappropriate content or holds against the Communist Party of China.
On 2 September 2008 the new CCTV Headquarters was opened on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of CCTV.
In July 2009 CCTV expanded its coverage and target audience by launching CCTV-العربية, its international channel in Arabic language.
Today, CCTV has 24 channels, most of them airing 24 hours a day. On 17 June 2013, CCTV announced General channel, News channel, and other 24 public channels starting broadcast on the new site of CCTV.
China Central Television falls under the supervision of the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television which is in turn subordinate to the State Council of the People's Republic of China. A Vice Minister of the state council serves as chairman of CCTV. The organisation has relationships with regional television stations run by local governments, which must reserve up to two channels for the national broadcaster.
The organization is considered one of the "big three" media outlets in China, along with the People's Daily and Xinhua.
In 2011, former newspaper editor Hu Zhanfan (胡占凡; of the Guangming Daily) was appointed the head of CCTV. In 2015, Nie Chenxi (聂辰席) was appointed the new head of CCTV.
China Network Television (CNTV) is an internet-based broadcaster of China Central Television which launched on 28 December 2009. CNTV offers six foreign languages services, including English, French, Spanish, Russian, Korean, and Arabic.
From 1979 to 2001, the CCTV logo consisted of two crossing ellipses, and was designed by Zhang Desheng (张德生), a former CCTV employee. It was commonly called "蝴蝶标" (lit. butterfly logo) in Chinese. The logo resembled the course or shape of a satellite, atomic nucleus and antenna. It used three primary colors (red, green and blue). The logo ceased to be used in 1998 due to a copyright dispute. After this period, this logo could be seen on reporters' microphones. The logo is not currently used.
The current logo of CCTV was introduced in 1998. The second "C", representing "Central", is red. The logo was modified on 9 July 2001.2 September 1958 – 30 April 1978: No logo whatsoever, only used "北京电视台" (translated to "Beijing Television", written by Mao Zedong) on the end of programs.
1 May 1978 – 30 September 1991: CCTV used the caption logo "中央电视台" on the bottom left corner of the screen (the logo appeared on :00 and :30 only).
Since 1 October 1991, CCTV uses caption logo "CCTV" on the top left corner of the screen.
Since 1 March 1992, The "butterfly logo" was used on the lower left corner of the screen (the logo appeared at :00 and :30 of the hour only). The logo is used during all times on top left corner since September 1992. In 1995, the logo has been modified, due to the launch of CCTV-3, CCTV-5, CCTV-6, CCTV-7 and CCTV-8.
Since 1 June 1998, CCTV uses the transparent logo (used on-screen only) on top left corner, the disk-shaped timekeeping device was introduced. It is the symbol of CCTV currently and the disk-shaped timekeeping device (digital clock superimposed on a transparent disk) is shown on top right corner.
Since 8 July 2001, CCTV uses the current logo for bids for the 2008 Summer Olympics. The logo has been modified on 12 August 2001 due to difficulty to identify the channel's number.
On 21 September 2009, CCTV-2 changed the logo, added the four Chinese characters "财经频道" (Business Channel) under the logo.
On 1 January 2011, CCTV modified all its channels' logos, adding the channel name under the logos. Also, CCTV News, CCTV Children and CCTV Music have been changed to "CCTV-13", "CCTV-14" and "CCTV-15".
CCTV produces its own news broadcasts three times a day and is the country's most powerful and prolific television program producer. Its thirty-minute evening news, Xinwen Lianbo ("CCTV Network News" or "CCTV Tonight", Chinese: 新闻联播), goes on air daily at 7:00 pm Beijing time. All local stations are required to carry CCTV's news broadcast. An internal CCTV survey indicates that nearly 500 million people countrywide regularly watch this program. However, the figure has slumped in recent years; the program now has 10% of the ratings market, compared to 40% before 1998.
Although news reform has been a prominent feature of CCTV networks, the Evening News has remained relatively the same since its first appearance in the early 1980s. Many important political news stories are broadcast through the program.
Focus, first introduced in 1994, is a popular programme on CCTV. This discussion programme regularly exposes the wrongdoings of local officials, which attracts serious attention from higher levels of government. The programme also exposes the Chinese Government's response to the charges of corruption.
The CCTV New Year's Gala (Chinese: 中国中央电视台春节联欢晚会)—a yearly special program for the Chinese New Year—is the most-watched CCTV programme.
In 2003 CCTV launched its first 24-hour news channel, initially available to cable viewers.
Producing a variety of different programming, China Central Television has a number of different program hosts, news anchors, correspondents, and contributors who appear throughout daily programing on the network.
The CCTV channels are listed in sequential order with no discerning descriptions, e.g. CCTV-1, CCTV-2, etc., similar to those channels in Europe and in other places around the world.
All CCTV channels are independently broadcast. The following 16 channels are public channels, it means that the channels are free, audience only need pay the ratings for the maintenance to the local cable without pay subscription fees. The following is list of the channels with their names:
CCTV is one of the six participants of Zhongguo 3D dianshi shiyan pindao (Chinese: 中国3D电视试验频道), a television channel broadcasting various digital 3D television contents.
The following 18 channels are pay channels: CCTV Entertainment (SDTV)
CCTV Overseas Chinese opera (SDTV)
CCTV DAIFU (air in Japan only)
All CCTV channels are also broadcast via the following:
All CCTV channels are broadcast 24 hours a day except the following channels, the broadcast time of each channels:
Every day at 5:55 CST the March of the Volunteers (National Anthem of China) plays on most channels (except for International Channels and Pay Channels).
Currently CCTV has 10 channels broadcasting around the world (CCTV-娱乐 (Entertainment), CCTV-戏曲 (Chinese Opera International), CCTV-13, CCTV-4 in Chinese, CCTV-NEWS and CCTV-9 Documentary) in English, CCTV-Français in French, CCTV-Español in Spanish, CCTV-العربية in Arabic, and CCTV-Pусский in Russian. CCTV-4 ASIA used Japanese in Japan. A Portuguese channel is planned for the near future.
The CCTV-4 channel split into three separate channels on 1 April 2007—each serves different time zones: China Standard Time (CST), Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and Eastern Standard Time (EST) in order to improve service for audiences around the world.
On 25 July 2009, CCTV launched its Arabic-language international channel, stating that it aims to maintain stronger links with Arabic nations. The Arabic Channel serves the Middle East, North Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region.
On 10 September 2009 CCTV began broadcasting its Russian-language channel.
In 2007, China's television audience rose to 1.2 billion. The 2008 Summer Olympics coverage on CCTV resulted in an aggregate 41% audience share across its network. As content becomes more diversified, there have been concerns about the audience share, as CCTV is losing out to cable, satellite and regional networks. In Guangzhou for example, CCTV programming only accounts for 45% of the weekly audience share, while in Shanghai, location stations also has share over CCTV. However, the CCTV New Year's Gala remains extremely popular; it acquires more than 90% audience share over the nation.
The network's principal directors and other officers are appointed by the State, and so are the top officials at local conventional television stations in mainland China; nearly all of them are restricted to broadcasting within their own province or municipality. Editorial independence is subject to government policy considerations, and as a result, it has been charged with being "propaganda aimed at brainwashing the audience" in its history and news programmes in a letter written by a number of Chinese intellectuals who also called for a boycott of state media was posted on a US-based website and has circulated through Chinese websites.
Journalists working for CCTV-NEWS, the network's English-language international channel, are under constant pressure to present a positive account of China, according to Anne-Marie Brady's study published in 2008. "In August 2005, a series of items reported factually on the coal mining disaster in China; soon after the channel's leaders received a warning from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that its reports were harming China's international image. Following this incident, senior editorial staff and journalists were all forced to write self-criticisms."
Brady says that while the channel's equipment is state-of-the-art, the employees are not well trained in how to use it, so there are frequent errors during broadcast. "The political controls on the station contribute to a general low level of morale and initiative among station staff," she writes.
A recent study done by the observer of Chinese film and television, Ying Zhu, suggests that "CCTV is full of serious-minded creators who regularly experience bouts of self-doubt, philosophical ambivalence, and in some cases, clinical depression." During her extensive interviews with key CCTV players, Zhu notes that "Certain common themes, about ideals distorted or altogether thwarted by commercial and political pressure, emerged." On 27 December 2007, Xinwen Lianbo aired a report about the wide and easy availability of explicit content on the internet. The report appealed to juristic institutions and government to hurry to make relevant legislation in order to purify the internet environment. In the report, a young student described a pop-up advertisement she saw as being "very erotic very violent". After the airing of the report, many parodies were posted by internet users ridiculing the comment and CCTV's credibility in part. The incident also questioned the reliability of Xinwen Lianbo, noting the unlikelihood of a web page being both violent and erotic at the same time (even though such pages do exist), and the age of the student interviewed. Personal information of the interviewed girl was later also leaked, identifying the girl in the report by name. Online message boards were populated by large threads about the incident, and a satirical work even stated that CCTV's website was the number one "very erotic very violent" website on the internet, with some users even creating their own toplists of sites which meet these criteria, the "top 8 very erotic very violent sports events" and even identifying things that are yellow as being erotic (since 黄, huáng, the Mandarin character for "yellow", also means "erotic").
On 23 January 2011 the CCTV news program Xinwen Lianbo showcased the Chengdu J-10 in the air by firing a missile at an airplane, the target plane then exploded. This footage lasted half a second and the destroyed airplane shown was later identified as that of an F-5E, US fighter jet. It turns out the clip was taken from the 1986 US movie Top Gun.
In 2011, new CCTV head Zhanfan "was found to have proclaimed in July [or January, both before the CCTV appointment in November] that journalists’ foremost responsibility is to 'be a good mouthpiece'" (当好喉舌工具). Internet posts of the comment blossomed after the appointment, one "juxtapos[ing] CCTV’s ... Xinwen Lianbo (新闻联播) and photos of Chinese crowds waving red flags with black-and-white images from Nazi-era Germany". Comparisons with the Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels (gepei’er (戈培尔)) also spread. Official media coverage of the Zhanfan's presentation focused on his call to avoid "fake news and false reports (失实报道)" but also incorporated the "mouthpiece" comment.
During the coalition's military intervention in Libya in 2011, reports from CCTV tended to support Gaddafi's arguments, claiming that the coalition forces attacked Libya civilians and the military intervention was no different from an invasion. In some of the news reports, CCTV used pictures of protesters demonstration and said that these people were against the coalition's military intervention. CCTV also mislabeled a person holding a banner which said "Vive la France" ("long live France" in French) and claimed that he was a supporter of Gaddafi. Later on 27 March, a Chinese banner that said "Muammar Gaddafi is a lier. [sic]" was shown up in some Libyan demonstration videos from Internet.
In mid-2011 on CCTV, reporter Li Wenxue asserted that Da Vinci Furniture of Shanghai was falsely labeling Chinese-made furniture as imported from Italy. At the end of the year, "Shanghai's industry and commerce bureau fined Da Vinci more than $200,000 last week for what it called substandard furniture", though in August, "the Shanghai Administration of Industry and Commerce ... cleared Da Vinci of any wrongdoing on its Italian product labeling". Also, Da Vinci produced a tape and bank records to back its assertion that it had paid 1 million yuan ($150,000), via a public relations broker, to Li to stop any further negative reports by CCTV. Li said the claim is "slander" and CCTV made no comment. Zhang Zhi'an, an associate journalism professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou said, "I think CCTV has too much power", contrasting the Da Vinci case with extortion attempts by journalists at smaller media outlets. Liam Bussell, Asia-Pacific strategic marketing manager for Mintel in Shanghai, said in part, "Da Vinci's definitely done something". Also, "[g]iven the corruption in Chinese media and the volume of counterfeit products in the country, Bussell sa[id] it's often hard to find someone in these disputes who's totally clean".
On 9 February 2009, the Beijing Television Cultural Center caught fire on the last day of the festivities of Chinese New Year, killing one firefighter. The blaze rendered the 42-story structure unusable, as the zinc and titanium alloy of the outer skin was burnt. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel was destroyed before its expected 2009 opening.
The fire had implications for the credibility of CCTV, which was already unpopular because of its dominance in the media. The incident was mocked by netizens who reproduced photoshopped photos of the fire and criticised CCTV for censoring coverage. Pictures of the fire are widely distributed on the internet, as a result of citizen journalism.
On 25 February 2013, all of the CCTV channels were replaced by New CCTV channels whose repairs were completed by the end of 2012.