Qian Gang: What Does the Fate of Sun TV in China Tell Us?

In late November, television viewers found that they were no longer able to receive the broadcast signal from Sun TV. As Qian Gang writes for China Media Project, it is clear that the reformist network’s “broadcasts to the mainland through the government-operated Asia-Pacific Six satellite [were] terminated”:

In the past I believed that the space for Sun TV’s development on the mainland would be rather small. A channel that targets a specified audience must rely predominantly on service subscriptions, and this is not yet a mature model for the television market in mainland China. But I discovered this year that even in a tough Chinese media environment, squeezed between political and economic pressures, Sun TV had emerged as a successful oddity. Its investors were not focused on maximizing profits, but instead used investment gains from elsewhere to support media development.

Sun TV acted responsibly and ambitiously, opening up a valuable window on China’s realities, discussing its problems, and seeking solutions. Through its extraordinary efforts, the network brought out the core public character of the media.

And as it had anticipated, Sun TV resonated with audiences in mainland China.

China’s political landscape should not be denied the ray of sunshine afforded by the lively debate at Sun TV. And the public has the right to demand of the government that they make clear the reasons behind the interruption of the network’s signal.


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