China's Tibetan TV channel popular with diverse programs, like Prince William's wedding

09:40, May 02, 2011      

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Joining the two billion global TV audience, Dronkyap, a Tibetan woman in a small southwest China town in Daofu County, intently watched news about British Prince William's wedding with Kate Middleton in London.

The only difference is that the news was broadcast in neither English nor standard Chinese mandarin, but her mother tongue, Khams Tibetan.

"This would not happen before we had a Khams Tibetan TV channel one year ago. Although I speak putonghua (Chinese mandarin), many people here can't understand putonghua nor other Tibetan dialects," said Dronkyap, an employee of a family-run bed and breakfast hotel in Garze Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Sichuan Province.

"Now without any language barrier, we can keep ourselves updated with news around the world every day, such as what happens in Lybia and the massive earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan," she said.

The TV channel that shortens the distance between Dronkyap and the outside world is Kangba Satellite TV, which began broadcasting programs 18 hours a day to all Khams Tibetan-spoken areas in June 2010. It is China's third Tibetan-language satellite channel after Tibet Satellite TV and Qinghai Satellite TV.

A total of 2.4 million people living in Khams Tibetan-spoken areas -- Sichuan's Garze and Aba, Qamdo in Tibet, Diqing in Yunnan, Yushu in Qinghai and Gannan in Gansu -- can now watch TV through satellite dishes, cable or analog signals. This means almost all Tibetan people in China, about six million in population, are able to receive TV programs in their own languages.

The Tibetan dialects used for broadcasting within China are Standard Tibetan (which is based on the speech of Lhasa), Khams, and Amdo. However, Tibetans speaking only one dialect often have difficulty in communicating with those speaking the other two due to their considerable differences.

Television is a major source of information for Tibetans and the launch of Kangba Satellite TV sought is to offer equal public cultural services for the Khams Tibetan-speaking people, said He Daxin, director of the Sichuan provincial bureau of radio, film and television.

The home of Tashi in Dumuling village in Garze's Dege County in a plateau valley was dark due to a power outage, but he and his wife could still watch TV.

This was made possible due to a portable solar-powered television provided for free by the local government.

"I like watching singing and dance performances," said Tashi. Tibetans are adept at singing and dancing and a variety of programs offer the two elderly Tibetans an insight into the traditions and cultures of different Tibetan groups.

Many Tibetans live a nomadic lifestyle, yet with these TV sets and sufficient sunshine, they can watch at least five hours of TV each day.

Authorities in Sichuan provided the solar powered TV sets, worth 4,000 yuan (620 U.S. dollars) each, to 20,000 poor farmers and herdsmen in the Aba and Garze prefectures, said He.

"Since we had access to electricity in 2009, we got to know the outside world through the Qinghai Satellite TV and Kangba Satellite TV," said Wji Dainzin, a herdsman who lived in a settlement in Garze's Kangding County.

Like the other two, the Kangba Satellite TV broadcast programs include news, songs, films and TV series, along with animated cartoons.

Chimed Wangmo, a news anchor at the Kangba Satellite TV, is now a household name. She became popular when she and her colleagues reported news on the annual sessions of China's top legislature and top political consultative conference in March.

Liu Raohui, chief editor of Kangba Satellite TV, said the TV channel rolled out cultural and legal shows in March and planned to unveil more educational and scientific programs this month.

But it was not easy work to have all the contents, for example, the concept of"harmonious society", be understood, said Yuan Guanghui, head of the Garze county political consultative conference's ethnic and religious commission.

"I often explained to people around me like this," said Yuan."'Harmonious society' refers to being friendly toward each other, living together in peace and resolving conflicts and issues through peaceful means, rather than by the use of violence."

Source: Xinhua
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