CETV adds a month of life, while Phoenix adds new programming

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HONG KONG -- China Entertainment TV (CETV) has a last chance at survival, while its competition--the Phoenix Chinese Channel--has boosted its programming schedule with more news and business coverage.

Following the announcement last week that the "no sex, no violence, no news" TV station would close down due to lack of funding, it now seems that CETV will survive for at least another month.

Founder and Chairman Robert Chua says a lastminute advertising deal worth $1 million from Henan Three Stars, which distributes consumer goods in mainland China, will keep the Chinese-language satellite station afloat through the end of April.

CETV is Rupert Murdoch's main rival in southern China, as it competes against the Phoenix Chinese Channel, a joint venture of which Mr. Murdoch's Star TV owns 45%.

Phoenix, meanwhile, is entering its third year of broadcasting with a new programming roster. The 24-hour general entertainment station is increasing its news and business programming to meet viewer demand, according to Star TV Vice President Peggy Lam, who handles advertising sales for the Phoenix Chinese Channel.

She says "when Phoenix was launched in 1996, we aimed at delivering the best programming that our audience in China wanted." As the station's audience becomes increasingly younger, educated and affluent, new programs have been added to match their interests.

"Good Morning China" is the first live morning news program in China offering viewers updated global news via satellite. "Wen Tao's Tea Time" is a daily issue-oriented talk show. "Sally's Eye on the World" is a documentary program hosted by a well-known host Sally Wu. "Glorious Days" is a review of the major events of the 20th Century hosted by Yang Lan, another well-known presenter in China. The station is also adding five-minute news updates by Sally Wu and Dou Wen-tao with the day's top news.

"The Chinese-language television market continues to have a wonderful future. There is tremendous and growing demand for Chinese programming," says Yu Tung Ho, VP of business operations, citing the "increasing economic wealth" of viewers as a strong stimulus for development.

Advertisers who have used Phoenix to target Chinese viewers include BMW, Bank of China, HongkongBank, Konka Group and Motorola.

Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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