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Two Billion Eyes: The Story of China Central Television Hardcover – October 2, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Ying’s cogent analysis and penetrating insight are invaluable for anyone trying to understand the political and social reality of the world’s most populous country."
Publishers Weekly

"A fascinating look at the news-entertainment-propaganda combine that plays a central role in how China understands itself, and is sure to play a larger role in China's relations with the outside world. I learned a lot about China, and about the news business, from this book."
—James Fallows, author of China Airborne

"Ying Zhu's compelling analysis of CCTV is very much an 'inside' story. . .We are given not just the best book to date about Chinese television, but a far better understanding of the role of media in China's still developing model of state-society relations."
—Stanley Rosen, professor of political science, University of Southern California

"Charged by the state with a global mission, and delivering everything from dramas and game shows to news, CCTV beams its programs from eight satellites to the world. Ying Zhu opens a window onto this complex, historically dynamic, and globally important institution. . . .Fascinating reading."
—Dan Schiller, author of Digital Capitalism: Networking the Global Market System

"A must-read insider account for anybody interested in contemporary Chinese media, Two Billion Eyes provides timely access to rarely heard personal voices from practitioners at CCTV. . .Zhu has proved herself again to be an innovative scholar."
—Yingjin Zhang, professor of Chinese, comparative literature, and cultural studies, University of California-San Diego

"If you want to know about the most important media institution in China, you have to read this book. Combining rare, in-depth interviews with fine-grained analysis, Zhu. . .makes a most significant contribution to our understanding of the complexity and ambitions of CCTV."
—Wanning Sun, professor of media studies, University of Technology, Sydney

"Two Billion Eyes opens a fascinating window onto the emergence of a Chinese public sphere, with its convergence of information, crisis, culture, politics, competition, personalities, and programming. A host of probing and stimulating interviews reveal the people at work within these developments and transform Western stereotypes about state monopoly into a glimpse of concrete history, the sense of a genuine historical process underway in the China of the last three decades."
—Fredric Jameson, professor of literature, Duke University

"The story of CCTV has never been told so fully, fascinatedly, and factually...Covering all dimensions of CCTV, from both historical and contemporary perspectives, Zhu’s book is remarkable for being scholarly and journalistic at the same time."
—John Lent, Temple University

About the Author

Ying Zhu is a professor of media culture at the City University of New York, College of Staten Island. The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, she is the author or editor of seven other books, including Television in Post-Reform China and Chinese Cinema During the Era of Reform, and a co-producer of current affairs documentary films, including Google vs. China and China: From Cartier to Confucius. She resides in New York.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595584641
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595584649
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,489,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Neuman on October 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Two Billion Eyes is a careful examination and dissection of
Chinese Central Television, the television network with
the world's single largest audience.

The book is concrete, full of specific detail, with which it
backs up its cogent analysis. It contains vivid details of
the last 30 or so years of development of television in
China, as an industry, a propaganda outlet, an art form, a business,
an eductor, etc.

Specific programs are highlighte, along with the creative and production
talent behind those programs, and the accompanying top-down
government/corporate atmosphere in which these programs exist and
either flourish or perish.

The struggles of documentary producers/reporters, and of news reporters/producer
will, on the one hand, sound familar to a Western audience contemplating
the decline of TV news in the United States, and on the other hand,
has particular Chinese elements, e.g., not only the business suits
but the Party suits involved in nudging content and talent in particular

The book highlights the central role of CCTV in interpreting China to
itself, that it is a medium that helps China to understand and explain
itself to itself. In light of that, the book's discussion of the/a
Chinese Model of state-society-media relations is cogent and

The material on how the landscape of audience demands and new
competitors more focused on entertainment and profits is particularly
enlightening, and not something most Western readers have ever even
heard of. Game shows are examined revealing their role in the conflict
between low-brow and hi-brow cultural consumption, and their use as
a wedge by CCTV's competitors.

I highly recommend this book.

Chris Neuman, independent scholar
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By phattar burarak on February 1, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very good so quickly more than expected
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Two Billion Eyes: The Story of China Central Television
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