Beijing has long sought to boost its "soft power" abroad, spending billions of yuan on expanding the international presence of its state-run media -- including broadcaster CCTV and official news agency Xinhua -- and through its ubiquitous government-sponsored language centres, known as Confucius Institutes.

For foreigners, it can be hard to understand the staggering viewership of CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala. The yearly program commanded 700 million eyeballs in 2014 and 690 million eyeballs this year, according to CNN. But cold comments online suggest that CCTV’s viewership comes less from popularity than from a captive audience.

Andrew Lack has a Herculean task ahead of him. Lack was sworn in January 20 as Chief Executive Officer and Director of the U.S. International Broadcasting(USIB) services. His job will be to sort out the mess that has resulted from years of bad management and misplaced priorities at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the part-time board that for two decades has attempted to run the U.S. government’s complex of media services

While China imposes strict controls on foreign-produced entertainment at home, it is also eager to see its cultural products embraced abroad. And in Africa, Chinese television shows have become immensely popular — at least according to the Chinese state news media.

Recently, CCTV aired a special program about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Europe. The program was even given a grandiose title: “A Bridge Between China and Europe.” China’s media continues to play up the success of Xi’s first visit to Europe.

Jimmy Kimmel's China problem just won't go away. After two public apologies from ABC over a satirical skit aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Oct. 16 -- in which a child suggested the U.S. "kill everyone in China" to resolve the national debt – China's Foreign Ministry has demanded further contrition from the broadcaster.

China doesn’t just exert heavy control over state media; its influence over media outlets outside China is expanding, according to a new report by Freedom House. For the past three years, the government has been investing millions of dollars in a global soft-power push. State newspaper China Daily publishes inserts of its English edition in major Western papers from the Washington Post to the New York Times. China’s Central Television, or CCTV, has hired dozens of experienced reporters from the US for its Washington bureau and rivals other foreign operations like Al-Jazeera America.