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British TV Viewers Fall in Love with “China Hour"

2019-01-31 11:00

According to Xinhua News Agency, as the Chinese Spring Festival is approaching,  British Sky Broadcasting Limited (BSkyB) has started to broadcast the TV series Nirvana in Fire which used to receive much attention all over China every day, and English-speaking Mei Changsu and Nihuang infanta have made British viewers addicted to the show. Chinese documentaries such as Chinese Spring Festival and Stories behind the Spring Festival Gala will also be shown in Great Britain during the Spring Festival so that British viewers can learn about the Chinese Lunar New Year through television.

This is just the program arrangement for “China Hour" jointly launched by BSkyB and China International Television Corporation (CITVC) during the Spring Festival.

At the end of 2016, “China Hour" was officially launched as a supporting activity for the 4th Meeting of the China-UK High-level People-to-People Dialogue. BSkyB currently broadcasts four hours of Chinese documentaries, TV dramas and cartoons dubbed in English every day, covering more than 10 million paying subscribers and more than 3 million free subscribers in the UK and continental Europe.

This is the first time that China has opened a pure English Chinese program in mainstream media in western developed countries. More than two years have passed, how has the effect been now?

Kevin Sui, Britain's Dove Media Limited CEO and partner of "China Hour" in the UK, told the reporter that since its launch, “China Hour" has so far broadcast more than 60 Chinese documentaries such as A Bite of China, Chinese Garden, Silk Road and Porcelain Story, three TV dramas such as The Legend of Bruce Lee and two animated films Weiqi Boy and The Adventures of Little Carp, which have been recognized by British TV viewers and some programs have been broadcast for a long time.

Data from the UK ratings survey show that A Bite of China received 120,000 ratings in half an hour during the pilot stage, and each replay could bring in new viewers. The Legend of Bruce Lee received 200,000 viewers. After broadcast, the cartoon The Adventures of Little Carp with Chinese flavor was praised by a lot of viewers on the Internet.

“With more and more frequent exchanges between China and Britain, the British people have a strong desire to understand China, and they especially need a non-governmental and comprehensive media platform to provide more real Chinese stories,” said Kevin Sui who has worked and lived in Britain for many years.

Quality TV content also needs careful promotion. In order to get as close to the local viewers as possible and create a better communication effect, the China Hour" program pays attention to its translation, dubbing, editing, introduction and broadcast time.

Kevin Sui said that before the program started, the team did a lot of preliminary research on the viewing habits and hobbies of British viewers. For example, BSkyB 192, where China Hour" is broadcast, is mainly used by middle-class families in Britain, and more than half of its viewers are women. Therefore, more consideration should be given to the interests and needs of this viewer group in the selection and arrangement of broadcast programs.

Some programs was originally dubbed in the American English accent and needed to be re-dubbed in British English accent before broadcast in Britain; some programs were broadcast before 9 p.m. and had to cut out bloody fighting scenes in order to meet standards for children viewing. There are still some programs that need more processing and local repackaging to close the distance with local viewers.

For example, the documentary Tea is difficult for British viewers to understand due to its profound connotation, so the viewing effect was not good as expected at the beginning of the broadcast. The team decided to add an opening commentary, inviting Damian Harper, the lead writer of Lonely Planet in China and Southeast Asia, to compose words and act as an on-the-spot commentator, shoot commentary on the spot in famous tea brand stores in Britain such as Twinings, so as to link Chinese tea with British tea, and reduce the gap caused by cultural differences. The repackaged documentary was a great success, attracting 380,000 viewers in half an hour, setting a record for China Hour" in the UK.

Today, China Hour" is increasingly mature and has accumulated a lot of experience in program selection, programming and promotion. The viewer rating from 2017 to 2018 has increased by 15% over the previous year against the background of fierce competition in online media.

Last year, China Hour" began to try to make its own programs, inviting a British rock band to Xi'an, China, and making a documentary about the mutual learning and exchange between western pop music and Shaanxi folk songs, so that British viewers can understand Chinese culture through their familiar forms and faces. The documentary is scheduled to air this year.

Kevin Sui believed that compared with the past, when TV programs were simply exported to overseas markets, China Hour" was more in line with the needs of overseas viewers and was an innovative platform and window for China-UK cultural exchange and cooperation. He also stressed, The main reason behind the British viewers' recognition of Chinese TV programs is development of China's economy and national strength, which has prompted more British people to know about China."

Lord Michael Bates, British Minister of State in the Department for International Development and a former charity hiker in China, is also a viewer of China Hour". He praised China Hour" for its efforts to connect the Chinese and British peoples from a cultural perspective.

He said that culture can always bring people from different countries closer. Every year, nearly a million people attend the celebrations in London during the Chinese New Year, watching dragon and lion dances, enjoying Chinese music, and tasting Chinese food. When I was traveling in China, I also found that the Chinese people's most direct understanding of Britain came not from politics and trade, but from culture, from Downton Abbey, and from football ... I hope that the viewers of 'China Hour' will also be attracted by China, which is rich, mysterious, modern and dynamic." (Author: Xinhua News Agency reporter Zhang Dailei)