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From 1999 to 2000 I undertook an ethnographic audience research project that studied fifteen families in the three Chinese cities of Beijing, Guangzhou and Wuhan, five in each city. Setting out to investigate television-related activities of the subjects and their relations to television, the study found that the samples, though quite small in number, were more heterogeneous than the existing categories of television viewers can cover. Among members of the fifteen families, as well as a few passive audiences, there were also active viewers who used television selectively to gratify desires and needs. There were those who actively made different meanings of television programmes, while there were others who ‘abused’ television for alternative purposes and, in doing so, downgraded the television set from the grace of the terminal of propaganda to a marginal and supportive accessory. This paper offers case descriptions of the different types of viewers, especially those ‘abusers’. I will begin with two case descriptions of audience members who passively absorbed television messages or used television for gratification of desires and needs, but the bulk of the paper will concentrate on more detailed case descriptions of abusers, who have not been theorised by existing television studies.