A waning interest in staid reports about government announcements has prompted CCTV to revamp its flagship news program.
Xinwen Lianbo, the country's most authoritative and popular news program, will change its format to include more human-interest segments and critical reportage from June 20.
"It will be the biggest change for China Central Television (CCTV) in a decade," Yu Guoming, deputy dean of the school of journalism and communications at Beijing-based Renmin University of China and a member of the panel involved in reforming the program, told China Daily yesterday.
"People care more about human interest stories and critical reportage, rather than official announcements. It points to the future of news broadcasts," Yu said.
The program needed to address changing media trends and the demands of its audience or face a drop in ratings, Yu said.
Before 1998, the program dominated ratings with 40 percent of the market. Today, that figure is less than 10 percent, Yu said.
Statistics from CSM Media Research showed the average daily audience rating in 35 cities was 5.6 percent from January to May.
It suggests more than 72.8 million people watch CCTV's program every day, seven times the audience of NBC Nightly News, one of the highest-rated news programs in the US.
Cao Qian, a 26-year-old student of the Beijing-based University of International Relations, welcomed the revised format.
"The news broadcast should focus more on what happens to ordinary people, not where and when our president goes. We need to know how a policy affects our life beyond just the boring numbers," Cao said.
Zheng Min, an 86-year-old retiree in Beijing, who has been a loyal viewer of CCTV for three decades, said its mainstay news program had to retain its authoritative and serious stance.
"As the national news program, the program should tell us what's happening around the country and where our president goes," Zheng said.
Cai Shangwei, director of the institute of radio and television at Sichuan University, said the news program was an integral part of the country's politics.
"Due to its symbolic meaning and position, the program cannot really change very much."