Chinese investment in Africa rose 87 percent last year, with a substantial chunk in media, writes Tom Rhodes of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Observers are asking if the new media emperors will offer a fresh, alternative, and balanced perspective on the continent--or simply propaganda.
Since January, Kenyans have been able to hear a daily one-hour broadcast of China Central's "Africa Live." CCTV plans to become an all-news, 24-hour channel similar to CNN by 2015.
The expansion comes as Western media houses are laying off writers across the continent to contain costs.
It is hoped that the new media moguls will allow more detailed, nuanced reporting rather than the often limited, negative coverage of Africa by the Western press, described by one journalist as 'burning-tire journalism' -- since the small handful of foreign correspondents based on the continent are reduced to covering only major disasters.
At the January launch of CCTV, Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka called on the new station to "cast a new image of the continent [since Africa] is often shown as the continent of endless calamities."
"It will be here for the long haul," said Chinese TV operations manager and editor Robert Soi. "Just as the BBC Africa has sold very well over here, CCTV will also leave a footprint.