The History of Chinese Television

The History of Chinese Television

Chinese television is very popular, with over 3,000 channels, well-received dramas, and foreign popularity as its main popular points today. The history of television in the country is no less impressive with the first channel being launched in 1957 and in 1960 full broadcast systems were being developed for use with three main channels reaching popularity and influence.

While these three channels (The Central China Television, Shanghai TV, and Harbin Television) were mostly political or just plain day to day news in nature, 1980 soon brought the entertainment value of TV to China, and soon became almost half of the programs watched and aired with education and news being the rest.

The entertainment programs included music, sports, films, and television programs such as dramas and family-friendly shows.

In addition, the news is blanked across all the channels at 7:00 and plays for 30 minutes in order to keep the people informed as well as give an easy way to watch or listen to the news at a specific time in the day.

The value of foreign content

Soon international news was being shown to the people of China with Chinese translations and summaries dubbed over the foreign speakers to ensure the news was being understood. Other broadcasters in the U.S also signed deals with the government to cross-promote televisions shows and programs between their countries.

A Chinese university broadcasting company also began to teach English to the Chinese, and the program soon became popular with the Chinese people who sought to improve their language skills.


Controversy and censorship

Unfortunately, when it looked like the foreign content, cartoons, and television shows were overwhelming the popularity of the main Chinese content, the government began letting those shows go and began using the Chinese media and putting them all together into one block of shows.

In 2003 however, these foreign networks and shows were let back into the country with limitations, such as a limitation on foreign produced cartoons and animated programs in the evenings to help the Chinese animated industry. However, the programs were and are still allowed to air while following the restrictions.

Another form of law to ‘keep the industry healthy’ is a ban on actors and actresses who have committed crimes, done drugs, or have broken the law. This ban makes it so they cannot appear on television or in any other form of media in order to protect the look of the Chinese media.



Despite being attached to the Chinese government and subject to the rules that the government acquires, Television in China has been a commercial and shared enterprise that keeps the people informed and also mirrors the changes China has gone through.

The evolution and history of the Chinese media is a ripe tool for discovering how the country has changed both politically and socially, and with more and more foreign programs being accepted into the countries airwaves it remains to be seen what changes that will spur within China.