China TV affils yank primetime ads

BEIJING — Advertisers in China buying time on the national network, China Central Television (CCTV), are having their commercials removed by affiliates, seriously harming CCTV’s reputation, officials said.

According to the Ministry of Radio, Film and Television (MRFT), provincial and municipal TV stations have been replacing primetime advertisements and programming on CCTV with their own ads and shows.

Ads for CCTV’s evening news and weather forecast were named specifically. No details on the scale of the infractions were immediately available.

Some local stations have even auctioned off CCTV ad time to local advertisers.

As a result, MRFT recently issued a circular strictly warning local stations that a 1993 decree requires provincial and municipal stations to carry CCTV programming in its entirety, including ads.

Any victims of such violations are empowered to seek financial compensation, the circular says, adding that any violators found will face administrative punishment.

Moreover, the circular requires all provincial radio, film and television bureaus to carry out a thorough inspection and report any irregularities to MRFT.

Primetime advertising on CCTV is growing into a big business, with much of it coming from such agencies as Saatchi & Saatchi and J. Walter Thompson.

Last month, the Qinchi Liquor company shelled out 320 million yuan ($40 million) at CCTV’s annual auction of its primetime advertising. In return, the company got five seconds on primetime and five minutes during the rest of the day.

CCTV made $300 million from the latest round of ad sales, more than double the 1995 figure.

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