TV Hangzhou Style

HZTV News Presenter, Zhang Ku

IT’S LIKE BBC Coventry  and Warwickshire, only it’s television. I was given a guided tour of Hangzhou Television’s (HZTV) 10 o’clock news this morning. Fascinating it was, too, with state of the art equipment, mostly of Chinese origin, writes John Mair.

HZTV is a local news and info station. Four channels of news, weather and information that rolls out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The news on the hour, every hour for twenty minutes, presented by the specialism of Chinese TV: pretty on air talent.

Zhang Ku was an obvious presenter – coiffured hair, tidy top and jeans (you never see those behind the desk). No journalism experience she later admitted was a handicap. She was reading the words of others in the newsroom. Huw Edwards would never stand for that.

The control gallery was much calmer than in the BBC. I guess that’is because they do it with such regularity. There is no room for mistakes. The team is smaller, too, with five in total. There is just three technical staff as opposed to the many working on the BBC’s equivalent. With a single sheet of paper for a running order, the rest is held on autocue for the autocutie presenter.

What about the news agenda? A bit predictable with three stories on the earthquake follow up, though perhaps the two new survivors found might have been lead rather than second. To me it seemed a bit overkill to have three video packages on the same story nearly a week after the quake. That material came centrally from Chinese Central Television (CCTV), however.

Other items were locally generated and shot. All have stand-up/pieces to camera – those autocuties have to get practice on the road first before the warm studio. Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of them are show stoppers. The Hangzhou pavilion at the Shanghai Expo and the Hangzhou Animation Festival might struggle to make Midlands Today.

Twenty minutes after ten, a live shot of busy Hanzhou traffic and smog and some credits and that was it. Another bulletin done. HZTV is one of the two local networks in this six million population city. It sells itself as the Information Network, though there are only so many traffic shots you can take of local congestion.

One third of the 140 staff are graduates of our sister university, ZUMC. Some in unusual roles. I talked to a bilingual broadcasting graduate who was editing a ‘blooper’ entertainment programme for that night. Others come as interns for six months. Some only last one week.

Interesting, but like so much local broadcasting, it sets its own limits too low.

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Filed under China Trip 2010

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