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Mixed messages, partial pictures? Discourses under construction in CCTV’s Africa Live compared with the BBC

research-paper by CAMRI alumna Vivien Marsh, published by Taylor and Francis

Does the news element of the Africa Live program broadcast by CCTV News represent an alternative to influential Western global news agendas? The Chinese state broadcaster promised “African news from an African viewpoint” when it launched the program in 2012 from its new broadcast center in Nairobi featuring African reporters and presenters. However, ultimate editorial control resides in CCTV’s headquarters in Beijing. In 2014, in a comparison with BBC World News TV’s Focus on Africa program – also launched in 2012 with similar ambitions and a similar parent broadcaster outside Africa – Africa Live’s news bulletins underwent quantitative content analysis. Qualitative comparative multi-modal discourse analysis was applied to selected news events. The early results from this continuing project indicate substantial differences in the way the two broadcasters set about their goal of delivering an “African story”. Although Africa Live did indeed show signs of developing an alternative to the “Western gaze”, which reduces Africa to a litany of conflicts and famines, Chinese subject matter and Chinese interests had a disproportionate effect on its editorial agenda.


Photo by Eva Blue on Unsplash




CAMRI alumna Vivien Marsh

About CAMRI alumna Vivien Marsh

My research project compares the English-language news output of Chinese state television (CCTV) with that of BBC World News TV. I also lead undergraduate media seminars and, in 2015, co-led a module. I’ve also contributed to Nottingham University’s China Policy Institute blog as an “emerging scholar”.

I came to Westminster from the BBC, which I joined as a news trainee before most of today’s Westminster students were born. In that time I was (variously) a news editor, writer, producer and reporter. I worked in the BBC’s local, regional, national and international news operations, in television, radio and online, including a stint in Berlin filing news and features in both English and German. I mainly wrote and edited news for the World Service: I was also part of the production team that launched BBC World Service Television News in the 1990s and helped it expand into BBC World. I edited the World Service’s European current affairs radio programme, Europe Today, and spent several years as the London-based World Service News Asia-Pacific editor/reporter.

I speak fluent German and French, some Russian and also some Chinese, which I have been attempting to learn since 2009. My first degree (at the University of Leeds) was in modern languages.


CAMRI alumna Vivien Marsh
9 November 2015
Published By
Taylor and Francis
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