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A Daily Publication of the Asia Pacific Media Network.
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The Straits Times
Wednesday, March 7, 2001

CETV to be taken off the air here next week

Singaporean Robert Chua's 'no sex, no violence and no news' Mandarin channel will no longer be transmitted by SCV when the contract expires

By Leong Weng Kam

THE Hongkong-based satellite TV channel started by Singaporean Robert Chua, China Entertainment Television Broadcast Limited (CETV), will be taken off the air here from March 15.

A spokesman for cable TV operator Singapore Cable Vision (SCV) said SCV's contract with CETV is expiring this month.

It was not renewed because Singapore's cable TV network is 'overcrowded', especially with two more channels coming from Singapore Press Holding's MediaWorks soon, he said.

'Our surveys also indicated that the CETV programmes lacked variety, and are not very popular with viewers here,' he added.

Still, the news came as a surprise to those viewers from Singapore who still wish to watch its shows on SCV's channel 53.

Some, in fact, had supported the channel when it was on the verge of collapse about 3 1/2 years ago.

Their feelings are summed up aptly by hawker Ng Ching Ching, 65, who said: 'This is a Singaporean channel we are very proud of. We rallied behind it when it faced closure due to financial difficulties.

'The channel has survived the crisis, yet we will not be able to watch its programmes in Singapore soon.'

Madam Ng was among the thousands of viewers across Asia who gave both money and moral support when CETV ran into financial trouble after its agreement with a consortium of five Chinese partners in October 1997 failed to materialise.

They donated money and offered words of encouragement to Mr Chua who launched the channel in 1994 as a 'no sex, no violence and no news' Mandarin family channel for Chinese all over the world.

CETV's financial woes ended last June when Time Warner Inc, owner of one of Hollywood's oldest movie studios, a publishing and music empire, bought into CETV.

Time Warner merged with America Online Inc, and is now known as AOL Time Warner Inc.

Many Singapore viewers said they were disappointed with CETV's new programming, which was launched last month.

Businessman Luo Fun Boon, 63, said: 'We thought the programmes will improve after the take-over by the American company, but it has turned out to be worse.

'There are more Western programmes now and it is no more a channel for all Chinese viewers of the world.'

Housewife Grace Koh, 49, who had appealed to SCV against taking CETV off the air, said: 'They are running ancient TV series like Lassie and Falcon Crest dubbed in Mandarin and I take it as an insult to us.

'They even cut the channel's top phone-in programme, Heart-to-heart from 1 1/2 hours nightly to only one hour. And during the Chinese New Year, there were no new year greetings from the channel to viewers at all.'

Insurance agent Wong Ying Wai, 51, added: 'And there are too many cartoon shows now, some are even screened past midnight.'

CETV founder, Mr Chua, who is still the company's chairman, said: 'I am very disappointed with SCV's decision. 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 future.'