CCTV Documentary Head Arrested In Expanding China Corruption Probe

CCTV9 boss Liu Wen
Courtesy of CCTV9

HONG KONG – Lui Wen, head of CCTV9, China Central Television’s documentary channel, has been detained on suspicion of corruption.

Liu was taken away by authorities on Wednesday (July 30), on suspicion of having “financial problems in the process of buying outside productions” and “an exchange of benefits for product placements in highly rated documentaries.”

The news first surfaced in investigative publication Caixin, but has since been carried by Chinese state-controlled publications including the prominent People’s Daily.

His detention is the second probe of a CCTV channel boss, following the May arrest of Guo Zhenxi, head of financial news channel CCTV2. In July three more CCTV staff were taken away for investigation; prominent on-screen personality Rui Chengchang, deputy director Li Yong and producer Tian Liwu.

Liu is producer of “A Bite of China,” a hit culinary show in which food and the country’s changing social context are discussed.

CCTV9 was launched only in 2011 but has apparently already achieved profitability. Liu has been reported as saying that the channel has a budget of RMB50 million ($8.1 million) for in house production and a budget of some RMB350 million ($57 million) for content acquisition.

Before joining CCTV9 Liu was previously deputy director of news channel CCTV 4 and Caixin points to possible additional problems for Liu arising from his stint there. In 2011 one of the channel’s programs accused the Da Vinci furniture brand of defrauding customers by shipping Chinese-made furniture to Italy, then shipping the goods back to China as upmarket European goods. The Singapore-based firm complained to the Communist Party discipline unit within CCTV that the channel was trying to blackmail it.

Stamping out corruption in the Party and different layers of government has been a major plank of the reign of China’s President Xi Jinping. Earlier this week it was confirmed that Zhou Yongkan, the country’s former security chief and a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, is being probed for “serious disciplinary violations,” a euphemism for corruption.