China Central Television, the state-run broadcasting giant, has appointed a computer technician as its new president.
Nie Chenxi was announced this week as successor to Hu Zhanfan, who “was removed from the post due to his age.” The announcement was made at a ceremony and confirmed on the website of the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT).
Hu held the post of president since 2011, a period in which CCTV has been rocked by the exposure of multiple scandals – many of them dating back long before his appointment.
“Nie, with good political qualities, ideas and faith, strong leadership and coordination as well as moral integrity, is a fit person for the post,” said SAPPRFT in a statement.
Nie, 58, has next to no experience in journalism and is the first of CCTV’s 11 presidents not to come from an editorial background.
Rather Nie appears to be an agent of change likely to move the broadcast giant further into the Internet age. He published an editorial in the People’s Daily in October last year arguing that traditional media, radio and television should have the self-awareness to merge with new media. In another paper published last month he said that the Internet will change the media landscape for film, TV and radio.
Nie graduated in 1980 as a computer programming major from Fudan University and worked at the Hebei Provincial Bureau of Statistics. In 2006 he was named as head of the Communist Party’s provincial propaganda department and became deputy governor of the province. In Oct 2012 he was announced as deputy director of SAPPRFT and will retain that position along with his new CCTV role.
The sprawling broadcaster has been stung by scandals involving allegations of corruption at its advertising and program sales divisions, and by allegations that producers have sought bribes from companies in order to gain positive editorial coverage.
Nie will quickly have to get down to dealing with another embarrassment. A video of popular CCTV host Bi Fujian mocking modern China’s founding father Mao Zedong at a dinner party was uploaded to video sites and social media on Monday, before being removed.
“As a CCTV presenter, Bi Fujian’s speech in the online video has led to grave social consequences,” CCTV said in a statement posted on one of its social media sites.
SAPPRFT was careful not to publicly blame Hu for CCTV’s troubles.
“Hu is politically steadfast and has taken a clear-cut stand on cardinal questions of right and wrong, keeping highly consistent with the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China inwardly and in action, making great contributions to the development of CCTV,” the SAPPRFT statement said.