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Chua Banks On Viewer Donations For Ailing Cetv

Struggling Asian satellite boss Robert Chua has begun accepting "voluntary subscription fees" from viewers to stave off looming financial disaster and the end of his "no sex, no violence, no news" satellite TV service.

Chua has already pushed back the closure of his China Entertainment Television Broadcast Ltd.'s Family Channel by one month to the end of February by firing half of his staff and putting the other 50% on half pay.

Hong Kong-based CETV Family Channel was thrown into its latest crisis when its 80% sale to a mainland consortium fell through before Christmas (HR 1/6).

Chua, who initially threatened to close the channel at the end of January, has opened a Bank of China account in Hong Kong to accept donations.

He says he has also opened a mainland account with the help of associates at Nanjing University, where he is a guest professor.

Donations via credit card are being arranged, Chua said.

"The decision to open a bank account to accept their (viewers') money or to stop broadcasting belongs to more than just Robert Chua," a CETV statement said.

Following what it claims were continuing donations from viewers eager to keep the service on air, the statement added that "the viewers felt that it is their responsibility to pay for a voluntary subscription in order for CETV to continue."

The donations will be used to fund the channel until a new investor is found. It will then be transferred to a CETV Charity Fund to help Chinese in need, Chua said.