More Than 500 Chinese Petitioners Protest China's State-Run Television Coverage

December 6, 2004

According to a Kyodo News Service report, on December 4, a group of approximately 500 petitioners gathered outside the main office of state-run China Central Television and protested government bias in the media.

Hong Kong media sources suggest the size of the crowd may have run into the thousands, and indicate that it was forcibly dispersed by the police shortly after beginning. Because of tight government control, organized protests of this size in Beijing are relatively rare. No coverage of the incident in mainland Chinese media has been observed.

Chinese petitioners often attempt to attract media attention in an effort to apply pressure on government officials to resolve their grievances. CCTV periodically airs television programs exposing injustices in local government, and petitioners often gather outside the CCTV offices in the hopes of appearing on one of them. However, the number of petitioners who actually appear on such programs is miniscule compared to the demand.

The Chinese government's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television controls the content of all radio, television, satellite, and Internet broadcasts in China (including, where it is able, foreign satellite broadcasts). For example, in May 2004, SARFT issued the "Implementation Program for Television and Movies Strengthening and Improving the Establishment of Moral Thought for Minors" [Guangbo yingshi jiaqiang he gaijin weichengnianren sixiang diode jianshe de shishi fangan], which required broadcasters to reject shows that "promote Western values, lifestyles, and social systems," especially under the guise of educational, scientific, or cultural programming.