Airing of Chinatown News TV on local channel draws heavy backlash

April 15, 2021 - 2:15 PM
Screenshot of Chinatown News TV on ANC. (Screenshot via Chinatown TV/Facebook)

The Chinese news program the ABS-CBN News Channel airs is produced by Filipinos from the Filipino-Chinese community.

This is the clarification Ging Reyes, ABS-CBN News Bureau Chief, released following criticisms against the new partnership of the network and a Filipino-Chinese-owned company to air Chinatown News TV (CNTV).

The CNTV is a nightly weekday news program that reports local headlines primarily in Mandarin. It also uses English and Filipino as secondary languages.

Episodes of the program reportedly started airing at ANC last Monday, April 12.

The airing of a Chinese news program on mainstream media was immediately placed under scrutiny on social media.

Most criticisms were addressed to CNTV’s producers called the Horizon of the Sun Communications Inc. who were also behind another Chinese TV show called Chinatown TV.

Chinatown TV is a long-running Filipino-Chinese lifestyle show that previously co-produced a music video called “Iisang Dagat” which was heavily slammed as Chinese propaganda.

In a Twitter thread on April 14, Reyes defended the agreement, saying they are against “any discrimination.”

“I understand the concerns on Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea and many other issues related to the country’s relations with China. ABS-CBN News has vigorously covered these issues, in our pursuit of truth and public enlightenment. But we resist discrimination against any race or ethnicity,” she said.

The news chief also clarified that members of the Filipino-Chinese community comprise CNTV’s producers.

“The airing on ANC of Chinatown News should not be equated with the intrusions in the West Philippine Sea. Chinatown News is produced by fellow Filipinos who belong to the Filipino-Chinese community. They are part of Philippine society,” Reyes said.

“Rather than belittle their attempt to provide a service to their local community, it’s time we considered embracing the diversity of this land we all call home. We have editorial control over their content, provide national news stories and ensure accuracy of the translation from Mandarin to English subtitles,” she added.

Journalist Barnaby Lo who watched the telecast also shared the same view as Reyes.

“I just saw Chinatown News TV on ANC. Based on tonight’s episode, there was nothing to indicate the show has any political leaning. It’s a multilingual newscast that runs your run of the mill news reports w/ a dash of Chinoy stories. Why Mandarin? Try writing in Hokkien,” the journalist tweeted.

“CNTV is produced by Chinoys (we are Pinoys). So this is essentially a Filipino-produced Chinese, English, and Filipino language newscast. If anything, I think it should make Pinoys not of Chinese descent understand our diversity. Watch to see ang galing mag-Tagalog ng anchors,” he added.

Concerns about Chinatown News TV

The CNTV aims to spread “the One Belt One Road advocacy” or the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s ambitious infrastructure project that would link or stretch from East Asia to Europe.

Critics of the ANC-CNTV deal pointed this out online in response to Reyes’ statement.

“Don’t bring out the discrimination card and use it against us. They want to promote China’s One Belt One Road initiative, they produced that ‘Iisang Dagat’ video, and they use their platform to spread lies about the Uyghurs. If that isn’t being a CCP propaganda machine, what is?” a Twitter user wrote.

One Reddit user also speculated that the deal might be China’s way to ramp up efforts to spread propaganda among Filipinos through the country’s mainstream media.

“I feel like China is ramping up its propaganda on the Philippines. They know that Filipinos aren’t exactly fond of the mainland, and if they want to increase their influence, they use media to advance their agenda,” the Redditor said.

“The Philippines is strategically a very important country, especially in the Cold War between the USA and China. China will do everything to steer PH away from the US and closer to China,” the user added.

Some Filipinos remembered the recent chasing incident between Chinese vessels and the Filipino boat carrying ABS-CBN’s News team in the West Philippine Sea.

This is not the first time the CNTV was broadcast on local television.

The Chinese-owned program had been on air on public-run IBC-13 and the Net25, which was owned by Iglesia ni Cristo since 2017.