Annual auction rakes in cash for network

Riots may be breaking out across China as its economy begins to falter, but the global slump has yet to hit the country’s state broadcaster.

CCTV’s annual auction for primetime ad slots raked in 9.26 billion yuan ($1.36 billion), up 15.3% on last year, bucking fears of a slowdown because of the financial crisis.

The auction is closely watched as a barometer of the media business’s health, and there had been fears that sales would slow as Chinese economic growth looks set to register less than double-digit expansion this year for the first time since 2002.

One third of the bidders at the auction were new companies.

“At this time, confidence is more important than gold,” said Guo Zhengxi, director of CCTV’s Economic Channel, as bidding opened.

The bidding came from consumer sectors such as beverages, food, medical and health, while bidding from financial and insurance companies also expanded significantly this year, local media reported.

Among the top sellers were CCTV’s “Spring Festival Gala,” the most watched show on Chinese TV, and the “Lantern Festival” show.

Midea Group spent $6.9 million for hourly ads during the “Spring Festival Gala,” paying around 10% more than in previous years.

Geographically, the main bidders came from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province, with Jiangsu province in fourth place.

Falling demand for China’s products is causing factory closures and job losses, which in turn has sparked protests across the country and raised fears of popular unrest.

China approved a $586 billion government spending package earlier this month to pump the economy.

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