The Latest Korean TV Format Wave on Chinese Television: A Political Economy Analysis

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Author: Liu, Yang
Since China’s reform and open-up, the political economic structure of Chinese media has experienced a huge transformation. Though still officially controlled by the Chinese state, Chinese media have been increasingly relying on commercial avenues. In order to reach the most lucrative consumer segment, Chinese TV producers have been striving to attract the urban middle class and create entertainment programs that cater to their latest tastes. The theories of audience commodity and digital labor are able to explain how Chinese television programs are oriented to the urban middle class, to the neglect of the voices of more marginal social groups. Although the phenomenon of buying foreign program copyrights is not new for Chinese TV producers, the latest Chinese versions of Korean reality shows, exemplified by Dad, Where are We Going, have become a special genre with high audience ratings. However, with their omnipresent inserted ads and product placements, it is also clear that that Chinese television has been commercialized one step further. In doing so, these popular programs have strengthened their class bias in a more obvious way, allowing middle class values and ideologies to become the most prominent mainstream social values. This has further diminished the space for China’s working class and farmers to express their voices. As Chinese television is further subordinated to the commercial logic, it has also intensified its role in shaping class relations in Chinese society.
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