CCTV New Year's Gala - History and Significance

History and Significance

The first CCTV New Year's Gala was held in 1983. It was the successor to Beijing Television's irregular New Year's Eve broadcasts, which date back to 1956. In the 1983 show, a unique and live New Year-related stage was set up at CCTV in Beijing, with performers in the arts, drama, dance, and song selected from all over the country. For every year since then at the turn of the Lunar New Year, the program begins at 8:00PM and lasts until roughly 12:30AM on the first day of the New Year. The program has become increasingly expensive every year, and tends to be set on larger stages each time. The evolution of the New Year's Gala is, in many ways, representative of China's technological growth since 1983, with a significantly new look around every five years. Research commissioned by China Television Research (CTR) in 2007 indicated that an estimated 93.6% of families watched the Gala on television, although these ratings have been disputed.

The program has received extremely large audiences, which have grown significantly over the years. The CCTV New Year's Gala is currently the most watched annual Arts and Performance event anywhere in the world, and as such, its importance has reached over to political, economic, and ethical territory. As the Chinese New Year's Eve is a time where the family gathers, the typical situation involves a large 3-generation family gathered in front of their TV set while making dumplings for the first New Year's meal. The Gala adds a mood of celebration in the house as people laugh, discuss and enjoy the performance. It has become an ingrained tradition on Mainland China to watch the New Year's Gala on New Year's Eve, and the estimated audience numbers over 700 million people.

Rural areas that previously been unfamiliar with concepts such as television often holds great gatherings on New Year's Eve to watch the program. The CCP Government has often emphasized rural areas being able to receive the New Year's Eve Gala as a progress in their economic development.

Some sources indicate that the Gala's popularity has been on the decline, although official sources from CCTV continue to claim an annual TV ratings for the Gala to be above 90%. Although consumerism has increased and younger people in urban areas are more likely to spend New Year's Eve outside of the home, the Gala has become an ingrained tradition in many Chinese families.

In 2009, CCTV vowed to ban all lip-syncing at the gala.

In 2011, Dashan made another appearance in the gala, alongside several foreign nationals of various ages, all engaging in fluent Mandarin conversation, including one of Russian nationality, an Australian and a Kenyan. The 2011 show was also noted for the appearances of various "ordinary people" performers who were selected by popular vote in a TV competition months prior.

The 'ordinary people' portrayals continued in 2012; several amateurs performed on the show. Coinciding with the rise of amateur performers is the decline of nationalist and political rhetoric. In both 2011 and 2012 versions of the Gala, imagery of national leaders were removed from the show. The 2012 gala was directed by Ha Wen, wife of host Li Yong. In a break with tradition, the 2012 Gala removed the announcements of embassies overseas sending New Year's greetings, as well as the My Favourite New Year's Gala Act voting announcement. It also did not conclude with a rendition of Can't Forget Tonight.

Read more about this topic:  CCTV New Year's Gala

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