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Changing perceptions

By Andrew Moody and Zhong Nan (China Daily)

08:31, July 04, 2012

Song Jianing chats with her African colleagues at China Central Television Africa, in Nairobi. Photos by Feng Yongbin / China Daily

The bureau chief of China Central Television Africa in Nairobi is on a mission to change people's ideas about both China and Africa. Andrew Moody and Zhong Nan report in Nairobi.

Song Jianing is on a mission not just to change Africa's view of China but also the world's view of Africa. As bureau chief of China Central Television Africa in Nairobi, the 46-year-old is one of the most powerful television executives on the continent.

She heads a team of 100 journalists and other staff, of which 60 are Africans, producing a daily one-hour news and current affairs program that is broadcast across the globe.

"We not only want to provide a real view of China to Africa but also the real Africa to the rest of the world," she says.

"So often Western media present Africa as just about wars, starvation and disasters when there is so much else going on. Similarly, they do not convey an objective view of China either," she says.

Song, a former deputy director of CCTV's French channel, as well as its anchor presenter, was speaking from the station's base in Wood Lane, Nairobi, which includes two high definition state-of-the-art studios.

CCTV Africa was launched in January this year and is now one of five major CCTV regional centers around the world outside of the Chinese mainland. The others are in Moscow, Sao Paulo, Dubai and Hong Kong.

There are high hopes in Beijing for its Africa output since there is a lot of interest among Africans about China as a result of the world's second largest economy's major economic involvement in the continent.

"African people have a fascination about China and want to know more and more about it," she says.

Song has made an effort to recruit some big African journalist names, including former Kenyan Television news anchor Beatrice Marshall, to give the station an African as well as a Chinese face. CCTV is following the model of broadcasters like Doha-based Al Jazeera that has hired high-profile presenters such as Sir David Frost.

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