[No abstract as this is a book chapter: the following represents the first 2 paragraphs.]
The screen fills with close-ups of smiling African faces against a black-and-orange background: the carefree child, the gap-toothed man with smoke curling from his pipe. The faces retreat into an outline of a map of Africa as the saccharine background music dissolves into birdsong. The silhouette of an acacia tree appears. This is not the much-derided Western romantic stereotype of the continent: it is an extract from a promotional trailer on CCTV Africa, the embodiment of China’s “soft power” drive and a spearhead of Chinese state television’s overseas expansion. Yet this image is at variance with the English-language channel’s professed ambitions. The Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, himself declared that “CCTV embraces the vision of seeing Africa from an African perspective and reporting Africa from the viewpoint of Africa”. These contradictory messages prompt fundamental questions about CCTV’s expansion into Africa. Are the channel’s English-language news bulletins aimed at African or Chinese viewers? What kind of Africa – and indeed China – do they represent, and could the framing of African events by CCTV News provide an alternative to the perspective of international rivals? Is CCTV’s main mission in Africa to provide news or to act as mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party and state? This chapter addresses these questions by applying a cross-cultural variant of framing theory to the news content of CCTV’s Africa Live and that of its closest direct competitor, Focus on Africa from BBC World News TV.