Major Chinese TV channel refuses prime time liquor ads

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BEIJING -- China Central Television (CCTV), the country's only national TV station, will no longer accept commercials for liquor during its prime time advertising slot in its evening news broadcast.

CCTV announced the decision at a seminar on the bidding process for CCTV's prime time commercial air time, attended by some 200 enterprises and advertising companies. CCTV defines its prime time slot as the periods before and after the daily half hour news broadcast at 7 p.m. The news broadcast is the most popular of all CCTV's programs and its viewership includes senior Chinese leaders.

In recent years, white spirit or liquor producers have won the auctions for the year-long rights to advertise during the prime time slot. Last year's winner paid $40 million for the top slot.

At the same time that CCTV has given into criticism about liquor marketers controlling such a visible place in public life, the broadcaster also announced that it will arrange 12 non-prime-time commercial time periods for liquor or white spirit producers for 1999.

China is a large producer and consumer of liquor and white spirits are important revenue sources for many localities in the country. At the same time, however, the national government encourages people to drink more wine and less liquor to help save grain.

Copyright October 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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