By: Clay Garner, `13
For the past two weeks I have been working at Beijing Television (BTV), one of the principal networks of China and a government-owned TV station. I work on BTV Channel 8, the teen/kid channel, as a production intern, program host, and performer. The program I participate in is called “BeijingKe” and is a mandarin talk show that covers a variety of interests including music, foreign culture, and aspects of everyday Chinese life. Additionally, I am their resident singer/songwriter and perform Chinese/English songs almost every night at BTV’s summer music festival. I am pretty much the only foreigner/high school student walking around BTV’s massive skyscraper studio complex; in other words, I get a lot of baffled double takes.
It is incredibly interesting to experience the structure and culture that make up a Chinese business, including the tough regulations and restrictions that apply to the production of media. Everyday in the final stage of production a censorship boss (known as the “zhu ren”) watches over the episode and decides if the content is appropriate to be aired. However, as much as western media enjoys portraying the evils and sterility of Chinese TV, I have found that the people who work here are genuine and truly want the best for their country. Today I am hosting part of a program on Chinese elders who have learned English through Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby songs. Tomorrow I finish this show and film four other episodes in the studio, including one on the struggles of Osteogenesis imperfecta victims in Beijing.