Last year, I canceled my subscription to satellite TV. Tired of the American-centric view of much of what satellite TV in Asia had to offer and the high price they were charging, I dropped it completely and connected the free cable channels that are included in my apartment rent instead. To my surprise, my apartment’s free cable TV now includes an Asian news channel called Channel NewsAsia, broadcasting Asian-centric news programming much more to my liking. Based in Singapore, Channel NewsAsia broadcasts to most Asian countries and offers a superb range of news programming of the kind not usually available on the BBC or CNN.
What is Channel NewsAsia? – An almost-24 hour news channel (and I’ll explain that in a moment), Channel NewsAsia is broadcast from its headquarters in Singapore. It covers news from all over Asia, with a focus on Singapore issues, which I find interesting as I’ve visited Singapore numerous times and it is one of the two most developed countries in Asia, so news coming out of there is often exciting.
Channel NewsAsia has bureaus and based all over Asia, as well as sends reporters to other parts of the globe wherever there’s big stories, so you always get updated, on-the-spot news coverage from some pretty keyed-in reporters..
Channel NewsAsia broadcasts news shows 19 hours a day. For the other five hours, from 1am to 6am, they show streaming news headlines, the only thing I don’t like about the channel and is usually the time I switch to the BBC if I’m up late.
Channel NewsAsia Programming – I love the programming on Channel NewsAsia as it’s fresh, quickly updated and opens a window to Asia you don’t see on any other news channel. Where the BBC is constantly reshowing segments it filmed earlier in the day or, in some cases, the day before, Channel NewsAsia mainly broadcasts new programming every hour, with updated news headlines and stories. When I get tired of seeing the same recorded segment on the BBC for the third time in an hour, I switch to Channel NewsAsia.
In one day, I already learnt about new upscale international supermarkets in Shanghai, saw a 30 minute documentary about a famous Singapore architect, a half hour story on the Mosou ethnic people of China, and caught up on the latest news coming from earthquake and tsunami-battered Japan.
Channel NewsAsia Programs – Not content to just show news headlines, Channel NewsAsia produces a large number of unique programs, from special 15 minute shows to documentaries of an hour or more, and on subjects from news to current affairs, health, the arts and lifestyle.
My favorites include ‘South East Asia Tonight“, which gives a nightly rundown of the top stories from all over Asia. I also watch ‘Asia Business Tonight’, as some of the business stories covered are vital for anyone doing business in Asia and for me, as a writer, give me wonderful ideas for future stories.
Like most people in Asia, Channel NewsAsia is obsessed with Japan, so they produce a superb weekly program, ‘Japan Hour‘. With stories on Japanese business, culture, arts, hobbies, lifestyle, food and much more, I’ve learned so much about Japan in the last few months, information I would never have received from a news channel like CNN. They even feature Japanese programming about Japanese food, customs and culture with a wonderful show where a Japanese couple or family is sent to a typical Japanese holiday resort and then reports what they find and how they spend their time.
Special Subtitles on Channel NewsAsia – One thing I don’t like about CNN and the BBC are the ridiculous voices they sometimes use to over-dub someone speaking a language other than English. Channel NewsAsia chose not to do that and, instead, has the person speaking in Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese or whatever other language they communicate in, and Channel NewsAsia airs real-time subtitles at the bottom of the screen. So much more genuine of an experience than listening to some accented idiot dubbing in English what the person visible on screen is saying in Malay.
Overall, most of my news-viewing time (and that’s about 12 hours a day when I’m at home working) is taken up with Channel NewsAsia or online with AlJazeera. The BBC gets about half an hour of my time and, with no more satellite thankfully, CNN gets none.
What’s interesting is, in the last few months, I feel better educated than ever before about Asian issues, and that’s been invaluable to me as a writer. With Asia now the world’s most important region, that in the long-run can only be helpful.