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Cultural Difference in Television Programs

Foreign Television Programs in China

Zhuo Feng

What kinds of foreign television programs are broadcast in China? What types of cultural differences exist in the minds of Chinese television viewers? To what extent can they perceive and accept these differences? The author developed a three-stage empirical approach to examine these questions in five sample cities in China. First, the television schedules of 37 television channels were analyzed in order to determine the type, cultural modification, and export country of foreign programs. Second, based on 36 audience interviews 42 cultural dimensions were explored and summarized in a catalogue. Third, a survey was conducted among 450 viewers, which examined their perception and acceptance of cultural difference. Five viewer types were developed through cluster analysis. The impact of influential factors was examined.

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Part C: Design of Empirical Study

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6 Television in China In this study China is used as a sample country for researching cultural differ- ences in universal television programs for several reasons: (1) Chinese culture is a typical high-context culture with high collectivism, whereas the culture of many Western developed countries (e.g., U.S. and Eu- rope) is low context with high individualism. Thus, the contrast between Chi- nese culture and culture in universal television programs from Western devel- oped countries might be very obvious and interesting. (2) Since Reform and Opening-Up Policy in 1978, China’s society has changed radically and become more open to the outside world. Little by little, people in China have changed their ways of life, habits, values, worldviews, and so on, partially according to Western standards. China now stands at a “cross- roads” of economic, social and cultural change. (3) In the last thirty years the Chinese broadcasting system has transformed from “single track” with a propaganda function to “double track” with not only propaganda, but also commerce functions. This means that Chinese television stations must compete with each other to survive in the market. Thus, they must broadcast attractive but relatively cheap universal television programs from de- veloped countries and Chinese viewers can watch more and more foreign pro- grams. (4) The author knows both high-context and low-context cultures very well, because she grew up in China and studied in Germany for nine years. Her native language is Chinese, so she does not have communication problems with Chi- nese participants. 6.1...

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