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CCTV's Spring Festival Gala: Glory days gone

By Lu Qianwen (Global Times)

08:11, February 20, 2013

Celine Dion performs at CCTV's Spring Festival Gala, February 9. (File photo)

Key Words: CCTV; Spring Festival Gala;Spring Festival; Celine Dion
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CCTV's Spring Festival Gala loses battle to maintain rating

As the long holiday for the Spring Festival of China's lunar new year comes to an end, there are the inevitable comparisons between this year's CCTV (China Central Television) gala program and the competing offerings of local satellite TV stations. Quality aside, one clear theme has emerged: CCTV's Spring Festival Gala is getting more controversial nowadays.

As the faithful companion to national audiences for over 30 years on Lunar New Year's Eve, the Spring Festival Gala produced by CCTV was once regarded as an essential element in the way Chinese people celebrated the most joyous occasion of the year. It reached its prime time in the early and middle years when most people in the country didn't have so many entertainment options as today.

But now the iconic program must face various fault-finding criticism from the minute it starts to be produced to the end of its broadcast. Since the 2013 CCTV Spring Festival Gala announced the beginning of preparations last July, many things, from the choice of the general director and hosts, to who would be invited to the gala all became controversial topics.

2013 Spring Festival Special

Audience rating

While advocates say that each year the massive event takes the time and energy of many people, and audiences should just relax and enjoy it, critics are already forecasting the show's gloomy future.

"Unlike in the past, people now have so many different tastes for both material and spiritual products. It's impossible to satisfy everyone, it (CCTV's gala) is inevitably going downward," said a cultural critic pennamed Yun Feiyang.

Though the program's future is hard to predict, a declining audience rating each year does say something. Recent figures from the CSM Media Research Company (a leading company in audience rating research of Chinese TV market) show that the audience rating for the 2013 CCTV Spring Festival Gala on CCTV-1 was 11.362 percent, a nearly 6 point drop from 2012.

Meanwhile, the figures for local TV stations' Spring Festival programs are encouraging. Their audience ratings cannot be directly compared since most of those stations choose to broadcast their productions during a different time-slot to avoid head-to-head competition with CCTV's gala on that most important night; however, the local productions are becoming increasingly eye-catching.

Among local TV stations, Jiangsu ranks No.1 with its audience rating reaching 3.982 percent. Highlights in its Spring Festival gala are not a few, including the most popular sketch artist Zhao Benshan, pop music group F4, and the reunion of the three leading actresses for the once red-hot TV drama Legend of the White Snake.

Liaoning TV station this year became the No.2 among local TV stations as its audience rating reaching 2.848 percent mostly due to the performances brought by "The Group of Zhao" who are all apprentices of Zhao Benshan. Some other attractive local galas are mainly those from stations like Hunan and Dragon TV.

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