For 30-year-old Wang Hong, the television set is filled with memories. It is reminiscent of her childhood, when owning a TV set was a luxury that brought pride to the family. As an adult, it is still the mainstay of her life. She turns on the TV the moment she gets home from work, although she has trouble remembering what she watches each day.
Her husband is focused on a different piece of electronic equipment. He is glued to the computer at home, where checking e-mails, chatting, and watching programs on the Internet are crucial to his daily routine.
This scenario is typical of the modern lifestyle, as revealed in a recent survey conducted by the China Youth Daily and Sina.com that asked 5,674 people how they fill their spare time. 31.3 percent of the respondents said they often watch television, 53.9 percent sometimes, and 14.8 percent never.
When asked whether their lives would be affected if the TV disappeared, only 23.1 percent thought it would, while a staggering 84.1 percent thought they would feel affected if the Net was gone.
The statistics issued by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) show that China had 162 million netizens by the end of last June, second only to the United States in number. 13 percent of Chinese households have an Internet connection, and the average citizen spends 18.6 hours sitting at the computer each week.
An interesting fact revealed through the survey is that most users surf the Net around 8:00 in the evening, originally the prime time reserved for television.
43.3 percent of the respondents said both elderly family members and children in their families watch TV, while the young are typically at computers. 27.1 percent said they used to reach for the remote control during down time, but now they’re increasingly turning to a keyboard.
60.3 percent of respondents only watch for time-sensitive programs such as news, sports, and live broadcasts.
Li Li, an employee at a public relations company, is a self-declared couch potato. She enjoys the comfort that comes from watching television because she can just sit back and set her chores aside.
“If there is a soccer game, I will definitely watch it on television instead of the Net,” Lin, a high school teacher, said. “The internet cannot ensure smooth delivery with standard definition.”
Quite a few respondents agree with Lin, arguing that they put a higher premium on delivery quality, an issue that will take a long time for network providers to wrestle with. However, some researchers think it won’t be long before the Internet can offer smooth and high-def programs. Part of the Internet’s success comes from the myriad of choices and freedom it offers.
72.4 percent of the respondents turn to the Net because there is more information; 55.2 percent say the Internet makes information easier to read; 42 percent say they can circumvent annoying ads online; 12.4 percent haven’t subscribed to TV service for a long time; and, 12.1 percent have computers but no TV set at home.
However, other figures still show that the television won’t fall into oblivion anytime soon. 30.2 percent of those surveyed will turn on the TV when returning home and 7.2 percent have no personal computers.
Some people think it is a fool’s errand to pit TV against computers, because they are just two different means for transmitting information. While the content they deliver is almost the same, most of the programs on the Net are culled from the TV.
(China.org.cn by He Shan, November 12, 2007)