In an ironic twist to attract overseas viewers, the Chinese government is resorting to the use of social media to promote its annual Lunar New Year gala TV show, which airs on CCTV.
The event for 2015, which will usher in the Year of the Goat and air on Feb. 18, is set to go international this year. Ma Runsheng, general manager of CHNPEC, an agency owned by state broadcaster China Central Television that deals with copyrights, told the Associated Press that 24 foreign media outlets have agreed to broadcast the show in several languages, including English, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese and German.
"Our purpose is to make our gala available to more overseas Chinese and overseas foreign viewers who love Chinese culture and want to learn about Chinese culture through this festive celebration," Runsheng said at a news conference Monday.
Runsheng added that the greatest hits from past shows, including the best moments of traditional Chinese opera, will be used to promote the gala on YouTube, Google Plus and Twitter. The Associated Press reported that all of those social media sites are blocked in China.
CBS San Francisco reported that social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were banned in China after recent political turmoil and pro-democracy protests. The government's efforts, known as the "Great Firewall of China," generally blocks Western-based media too.
"The Publicity Department of China issued orders for websites to take down any mention of the unrest, and search phrases that include words like 'occupy' and 'Hong Kong students,'" CBS San Francisco reported.
According to the Associated Press, this year's theme for the show is "Family Harmony Yields Success." CCTV promoted the show, known as the Spring Festival Gala, as the world's longest-running and most-watched variety show.
"A staple of holiday celebrations since the 1980s, the evening show also has been widely mocked for cheesy performances and stilted staging," the Associated Press wrote.
CRIEnglish.com unveiled the eight hosts of CCTV's Spring Festival. The chief director of China's Spring Festival Gala, Ha Wen introduced them at a news briefing on Monday.
"They are Zhu Jun, Dong Qing, Kang Hui, Sa Beining, Li Sisi, Bi Fujian, Zhu Xun and Nigermaidi Zechman," CRIEnglish wrote.
According to CRIEnglish, Jun is the most experienced host of the bunch with 19 years' worth of experience, while Qing has hosted the event for 10 consecutive years.
"Kang Hui, a news anchor for China Central Television, and Nigermaidi Zechman, a 32-year-old Uygur host, will make their debuts this year," CRIEnglish wrote.
Wen told CRIEnglish that four segments will highlight this year's theme. They are entitled "An Auspicious Year," "Family Reunion," "Family Harmony Yields Success" and "Family Photo."
"It is a long-cherished tradition that the Chinese people spend the Chinese New Year's Eve by watching the evening gala with their families," CRIEnglish wrote.
The annual Spring Festival Gala, known as "Chunwan" in Chinese, will air Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. Beijing time/4 a.m. ET on CCTV. Overseas viewers can stream the show online through the CCTV website.