II. Radio and Television
Radio and television are accelerating integrated development of content, channels and platforms, as well as operation and management. Corresponding policies are in place, the width and depth of integration have been continuously expanded and more approaches have been explored.
CCTV, for example, started to press forward with media integration in 2015. First, it strengthened top-level design and established a leading group for media integration, changed the former practice of “individual compact” by its various departments to bring into place a new working pattern featuring “all departments playing the same game of chess.” Second, it formulated mid- and long-term plans for media integration to clarify goals, key products and programs for each phase of work. Third, it increased financial and human resource input for the integration to strengthen the momentum for development by such means as equity financing. Fourth, it broke the existing mindset, updated development concepts and combed TV-website relations to overcome its present weakness. It sought to cut corners and achieve step change through innovations in institutional terms, production flow, channel building, management framework, operation and personnel training.
1. Program Integration in Full Swing
Radio and television program integration has become a common practice, bringing all media transmission into shape. This on the whole increases the influence and spreading capacity of radio and television programs, and feeds content to new media.
Radio and television programs have fully embraced new media.
(1) Radio and television programs are broadcast on their own websites. Radio and television stations above prefecture/city level have mostly set up their own audio-visual websites. There are 29 online broadcasting stations, creating a massive network platform. Most radio and television stations upload their programs to their websites and a number of the stations make them transmissible on desktop, tablet PC and smart phone. Some provincial and city stations have explored omni-media transmission, running their programs on Weibo, WeChat, internet, radio, television, mobile TV, and printed newspapers and periodicals, realizing their synergy effect. Some radio and television stations authorize only their own websites to show their quality original programs to maximize the strength of their web platform.
(2) Gaining influence by sorting help of web portals and video websites. Most radio and television stations have reached long-term cooperation with web portals and video websites to extend their audience by exploiting the advantage of internet platforms, so as to produce the so-called double-platform effect of “traditional transmission + internet transmission.” The live telecast of the 2015 Spring Festival Gala on iQIYI.com, the only video website authorized by CCTV, was watched online by over 14 million viewers, setting the global record for a live webcast on a single internet platform and claiming a cumulative play time of over 104 million hours and a bullet curtain comments of over 100 million during the live webcast; the “shake your smart phone and get lucky draw” game was played on WeChat more than 11 billion times, and its multi-screen ratings reached 49.6%, 1.2 percentage points higher than the previous year.
(3) Radio and television programs being brought into social media and clients. Radio and television stations and even some individual programs have opened Weibo and WeChat accounts, and developed quality program apps and clients to deliver content to their audience through these platforms. China National Radio (CNR), CCTV, China Radio International (CRI) and many provincial radio and television stations have embraced the practice of releasing news on all platforms, for example, updating reports on Weibo, posting in-depth analysis on WeChat, and providing a multitude of information and video clips on apps. By June 2015, CNR had over 13 million followers on Weibo and over 480,000 on WeChat, and CRI News Radio accounts on Tencent and Weibo had attracted more than 33 million followers. By the end of 2015, CCTV News followers on WeChat and Weibo and its app users had exceeded 200 million, and the accumulative downloads of video app CBox (by CCTV.COM) reached 450 million. Beijing Media Network (BMN) opened 150 WeChat accounts for its 11 channels and 128 columns. Radio station programs above prefecture/city level throughout the country are now broadcast live or on demand on apps such as Radio.cn and ajmide FM.
Radio and television stations are also working with new media to make programs. They jointly conceptualize, separately implement, work under unified guidance, complement each other, and present programs on both platforms. Some stations are building media integration studios to materialize deeper integration of new media and television programs. Some films and TV programs already take into consideration the requirements and features of new media right at the stage of production. During the “two sessions” (the annual sessions of the NPC and CPPCC) in 2015, the CRI special column used UGC concept (User Generated Content) to produce programs. The reporters concerned collected questions from their circles of WeChat friends, set up WeChat groups for delegates to discuss the relevant issues and generate opinions, and ultimately collect these opinions into a special report — a breakthrough in both information availability and expression of views. When cooperating with new media in producing variety shows, radio and television stations apply big data resources to program design, production, broadcasting, marketing and evaluation, turning the audiences into subscribers to offer targeted services.
2. A Major Breakthrough Made in Integration of Channels and Platforms
(1) Full integration of the three networks (telephone, computer and telecommunication) significantly improves the carrying capacity of the CATV network. The latter is working to provide digital, intercommunication and broadband connection services, besides building cloud platforms and becoming intelligent. The CATV networks of most provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government have obtained the aptitudes to integrate the three networks to offer internet access and internet data transmission services. By September 2015, there were 200 million subscribers of digital cable television programs nationwide, 128 million households covered by intercommunication networks with over 4,400 paying to such services, and about 16 million subscribers of broadband services. Zhejiang WASU, Beijing Gehua CATV Network Co. Ltd, Jiangsu JSCN and Hunan CATV Network Group Co. Ltd are leading new media development — working all out to broadcast all types of programs and ensure full network coverage, all-terminal services, and presentation on all media. These new businesses have become the major contributor of revenue growth.
(2) Integrated development is accelerating to promote transmission on all channels and platforms. Radio and television agencies providing online audio-visual programs are stable in number. Coordinated efforts are being made to promote transmission through multiple terminals and build media convergence centers.
Radio and television stations at all levels have set up multiple channels and platforms. By the end of 2014, 224 radio and television agencies had been authorized to offer audio-visual services on the internet, 28 radio and television agencies above/at provincial level were allowed to run internet radio and television stations, and 24 city television stations were authorized to run city internet television stations. Also, six radio and television agencies provided integrated broadcast control services for mobile TV, 34 of them were responsible for feeding content to mobile TV, seven radio and television agencies had built, managed and run internet TV integration platforms, and 14 radio and television agencies were feeding content to internet TV. By the end of 2014, the overall platform and individual platforms in pilot areas for integrated broadcast control were in place and linked, and were providing audio-visual programs through broadband connection to over 33 million users nationwide. At present, IPTV platforms offer more services, manifesting IPTV plus features and showcasing integrated and intelligent development, making IPTV an important service provider. By the end of 2014, CNTV had over 560 million monthly unique visitors. It was releasing 130,000 videos daily, making itself one of the most influential audio-visual new media nationwide.
Radio and television stations at all levels are building cloud platforms embracing various communication channels and terminals. For example, CNR’s cloud platform offers radio programs for users of internet and internet in vehicles. CCTV is building its own cloud platform too. It has launched projects like CCTV news, CBox, and 4G mobile TV platform. It is accelerating the integrated development of key projects, and consolidating the building of a state video database, user database, interactive television service platform and global video distribution platform. It is also focusing on cooperation between internet TV, IPTV, mobile TV and mobile digital television, and feeding contents to various terminals. CRI has three categories of contents on its cloud platform — “Chinese picture and text,” “Chinese audio” and “Chinese video,” offering necessary network resource services and technical support for computation and storage to support the distribution of its Chinese series media products across the globe.
Radio and television stations at all levels are reshaping their production chain, which involves collecting, editing and presenting information on multiple media channels. Those without cloud platforms work hard at integrating different platforms and terminals by breaking barriers between traditional media with website, internet TV, internet audio-video platforms and mobile TV. Hunan Broadcasting System has integrated Hunantv.com and the old Mangotv to build a new media platform — with Mangotv as its new logo, and with all its audio-visual programs played on various new media platforms, such as internet TV, mobile TV, video website and IPTV, and accessible on TV, desktop, tablet PC, and smart phone. Beijing Media Network has established its new media network center. Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation has set up an omni-media platform. Daxiang Merged Media under Henan Radio and Television Station is building convergence media center.
(3) Building of new platforms such as Weibo, WeChat and QR code is ongoing. Weibo, WeChat and QR code are now the quickest and most economical convergence platforms, while the clients become the most active communication and operation platform for radio and television programs. Radio and television stations at all levels and individual radio and TV programs are opening accounts on Weibo and WeChat and using QR code to interact with audiences and users. CNR has over 700 verified Weibo and WeChat accounts for its frequencies, programs and hosts. CRI has 62 Weibo accounts, 70 WeChat accounts, and 87 overseas social media accounts. Radio and television stations at all levels are using apps as the focus for platform building, opening up apps for channels, frequencies, programs and news. CRI has 67 mobile apps in 26 languages. Apps such as CNR’s Radio.cn, BMN’s “Tingting FM,” and Shanghai Media Group’s ajmide FM have become the new platforms to broadcast traditional media programs.
3. Integration of Operation and Management
Integration of operation and management is an indicator of the integrated development of traditional and new media. It is also a major task in the new round of reform in the radio and television sector. In 2014, major radio and television stations started their reform, starting with the integration of operations and management.
(1) Operational mechanism integration promotes reform in the media. Radio and television stations at/above provincial level have stepped up the pace of reform to achieve the integrated operation of traditional and new media. CNR has set up the Yangguang Media Group to integrate the operation of traditional and new media. CCTV has worked out and implemented a Working Plan to Promote Integrated Development of Media, focusing on smoothing out the internet-TV station relationship and putting in place a synergy mechanism, so as to bring into place a situation in which all staff in the CCTV work to run well new media. BMN has embraced the idea of “mega-media” and established an operation mechanism of cloud storage and multiple-screen display. Reforms aiming to build integrated media and unified operation are ongoing nationwide, which will result in a conglomerated operation to drive the development of new media.
(2) Integrated operation of operational resources promotes innovation. In this respect, the first is integrated operation of advertising resources. The advertising value of new media is becoming increasingly apparent to become complementary with the traditional media. As of 2014, CCTV has taken the lead in implementing integration of advertising operations, with the CCTV property management center taking overall responsibility for the new media advertising business to gradually building new media advertising product lines. The second is the integrated operation of contents. It has become increasingly for radio and television and new media to carry out integrated operation of programs. Hunan Broadcasting System has monopolized the broadcasting rights of its brand shows on Mango TV, increasing its page views from millions to hundreds of millions. Thirdly, it is the integrated operation of platforms. Different new media give rise to different platforms, which start their integrated operation after they initially take shape. Suzhou Broadcasting System has made integrated use of its radio and television stations, websites, internet client operating platforms, social platforms, e-commerce and e-government platforms to focus on building a city information service cloud platform featuring the provision of public information, business services and social services.
(3) Integrated operations inspire the rise of an industrial chain. Media enterprises of an integrated nature are expanding cooperation across sectors, industries and regions to develop themselves into conglomerates with complete industrial chains. China International Broadcasting Network (CIBN) completed its industrial chain layout with user scale as the primary goal. In 2015, it launched the intelligent terminal product brand CAN, marking its official entry into the internet TV industry. To industry insiders, the full integration of all its resources along the industry chain cover program making, channels, and terminal industrial layout. Some broadcasting agencies have set up investment funds or made direct investment to enter the radio and television market. In November 2014, Zhejiang WASU Media and its partners set up a cultural industry fund to make investment in content, internet applications, broadcasting network, mobile internet, cloud computing, and smart terminals in the upstream and downstream of the industrial chain of radio and television network, cultural media and new media. Some have established new media industrial investment funds for new media equity mergers and acquisitions, and integrated development of smart healthcare, internet TV, mobile internet, online video, games, travel, education and advertising.
(4) Pressing forward with integration of management of radio and television and new media. In 2014, radio and television media explored integrating the management of personnel, assets, content and operations by reorganizing their structures, effectively integrating all media resources and production factors so as to achieve the sharing and connectivity of information contents, technology application, platform terminals and talent teams and eventually form an integrative organization, communication and management system. In early 2015, CNR set up its convergence media center, which enabled seven-day 24-hour news production, realizing the integration of program structure, personnel schedule, overall planning, marketing and promotion. Also in 2015, CCTV news center set up a new media department to produce and present news on multiple platforms, and realize centralized management of personnel, property and assets, copyright, technology development, brand promotion and advertising.
CRI has established a management committee for major media projects and media integration work to adjust the internal structure, break department barriers, produce overall plans and coordinate major media projects and integration work, and re-engineer the process flow of the news center and the English center. The news center now releases more news on multi-media platforms, and has introduced a media director and producer responsibility system. The English center is piloting trials on a media integration and producer responsibility system. In terms of management integration, radio and television stations are strengthening the verification and management of broadcasting rights and network copyright. Some competitive stations and programs have set up media assets centers to further expand and apply traditional media assets, and prioritize copyright management in order to highlight its value in new media.