| | Re: why the present tense?
First form verbs (go/goes etc) don't express present time, but describe events which are permanent facts. A soap is recorded. You can watch it at any time and it will never change For that reason, all the verbs which describe what happens (begins, says, declares) are all in the first form - there's no difference in reason - it always begins in the same way, Just as Deng Xiaoping always "says" the same thing and Li peng always "declares" the same thing any time you watch it.
You'd use the same form to describe a book, and again, for the same reason :
"A Tale of two Cities" begins with the sentence It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.