TV EXEC SELLS RADICAL PROGRAMS: CETV PROVIDES NO SEX, VIOLENCE

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HONG KONG-Robert Chua is trying to stand out in the TV industry with his talk of old-fashioned Asian values. And he believes he can make money at a time when Western TV networks are making a beeline for Asia.

"We follow a policy of no sex and no violence," said the 49-year-old chairman and CEO of China Entertainment Television, which in March began airing a cable channel with a mix of entertainment, variety, game shows and family-based programming in Mandarin. CETV bans controversial topics such as politics.

Now seven months into the operation, Mr. Chua is knocking on doors in Europe, trying to entice marketers and advertisers with a plan for spots on CETV and in local Asian markets.

CETV has positioned itself as a channel showing programs that can be watched without embarrassment by the entire family.

CETV's surveys in 330 cities claim the channel reaches 28 million households in China, although that figure has not been audited. CETV is carried via sattelite from Hong Kong.

Mr. Chua's extensive career in Chinese programming saw his Robert Chua Productions media company becoming the first to break China's commercial market, getting exclusive contracts to sell foreign ads to TV stations in several provinces. RCP later distributed English-language and foreign TV programs in China.

Then in 1984 RCP enabled Lorimar and Metromedia to enter the market, gaining him further respect as a program distributor.

CETV's major shareholders are still unidentified but include several Chinese-owned companies in Malaysia and Indonesia. "Eventually we found people who shared the same values," Mr. Chua said.

He said he is happy with CETV's response from advertisers such as Procter & Gamble, Australian airlines Lauda Air and Wen Wei Po, a mainland China newspaper.

Mr. Chua is now offering Western advertisers a deal that will include spots across Asia on CETV in addition to ads on the local station.

"This can be useful for local [European] manufacturers with the capacity to export," Mr. Chua said, "allowing them to test a new market at a reasonable cost."

However, reactions to his plan from some TV station executives and media buyers in the U.K. and France are at best lukewarm.

"We're strong users of Star TV's English- and Chinese-language programming," said David Sheridan, international media group head of Optimedia, London. "We do tend in this part of the world to buy our TV not by packages, but by program content."

CETV sounds similar to the Chinese Channel, he said. "If its content is similar, perhaps they're following a successful formula."

Executives at two Paris-based stations said they would have to see Chua's plan and talk to advertisers before considering it.

"It would all depend on how much it costs and whether that could be offset by significant interest from clients," said a spokesman for TF1, France's largest TV station.

"You'd also have to see how this fee, or whatever it would be, could be passed on to the advertiser, because it is he, of course, who would be benefiting from the service," the spokesman said. Only a select number of advertisers would be interested in this kind of linkup."

A spokesman for France Television, which operates two public stations, said, "I'm not so certain French advertisers are going to want to use such a means to test products in Asia. They already have ways of doing that that are not as high-profile."

Charlie Siler, Bruce Crumley and Todd Pruzan contributed to this story.

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