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Tw's China Ent. Tv Loses Its Spot In Singapore

By Whang Yee-Ling
Publication: The Hollywood Reporter
Date: Monday, March 12 2001
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Hong Kong-based satellite television channel China Entertainment Television Broadcast will be taken off the air here Thursday, barely 10 months after it was taken over by Time Warner Inc.

The network's contract with CETV will not be renewed when it expires because, according to a representative of local carrier Singapore Cable Vision, Singapore's cable television market is "overcrowded," especially with two channels being launched in May by newly formed local broadcasting concern MediaWorks.

The news came as a surprise to the local audience for whom CETV is a source of national pride. CETV was founded in 1994 by a Singaporean, entrepreneur Robert Chua, as a "no sex, no violence and no news" Mandarin- language family channel for all Chinese across the world.

"I am very disappointed with SCV's decisions," Chua, who is still the company chairman, said. "A new team from my American partners has taken over the programming, and it should be given more time to prove itself. I hope we can return to our Singapore viewers in the future."

Thousands of viewers in Asia had contributed funds and words of support to Chua when CETV nearly ran aground in October 1997, following an aborted takeover agreement with a consortium of five Chinese partners. Its financial woes ended with the buyout by Time Warner in June (HR 6/15).

The shift in programming since then was cited as another reason for the channel's termination. "Our surveys indicated that the CETV programs lacked variety and are not very popular with viewers here," the SCV representative said.

Many Singaporeans also expressed disappointment with the new lineup introduced last month.

"We thought the programs would improve after the takeover by the American company, but it has turned out to be worse," a viewer, businessman Luo Fan Boon, told the local press. "There are more Western programs now. It is no more a channel for … Chinese viewers of the world."

Other common gripes were of reruns of such "antique" U.S. TV series as "Lassie" and "Falcon Crest" as well as cartoons screening too late into the night.