'Win' ends Season 2 on high note

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BEIJING -- "Win in China," a series in which entrepreneurs compete with each other for cash on state-run television, saw ratings jump for Tuesday's second-season finale despite a crackdown on call-in voting contests leading up to next month's 17th Communist Party Congress.

Taped Tuesday afternoon in front of a well-heeled studio audience at China Central Television in Beijing, the two-hour 20-minute 2007 finale -- which later aired edited on CCTV-2 -- was seen by 14% more viewers in China's top three TV markets than the 2006 season ender, which made producer and hostess Wang Lifen a household name here.

Winning was would-be furniture mogul Li Shuwen, who eliminated four other contestants to take home 10 million yuan ($1.3 million), or twice last year's top prize.

Li came into the months-long competition with twice the number of call-in votes as the runner-up and used his oratory skills to wow a panel of executives and venture capitalists, including the chairmen of computer maker Lenovo and state-owned conglomerate COFCO

Last week, China's media regulators published rules reiterating unwritten practices against call-in voting TV shows (HR 9/26). The rules, which reinforce the state's control over the closely monitored media industry, may be part of an effort to boost the Communist Party's image as the protectors of social morality in advance of the Communist Party Congress.

Voting shows first rocketed to popularity here last year with "Super Girl Voice," a singing-contest on a provincial satellite station that came under fire when mobile phone operators overcharged voters for text-message voting.

Producer Wang, who last week in an interview said she intends to continue "Win" with a third season, was not available Wednesday to comment about the fate of the show's voting tradition.

"Win in China's" season-finale ratings in Beijing rose to 0.5 and a 3% share of the audience Tuesday, up from 0.4 and a 2% share last year, AGB Nielsen data shows. Advertisers included at least one foreign company, German carmaker Audi.

Ratings for the show in Guangzhou, the capital of China's richest province, just north of the border with Hong Kong, rose to 0.4 and a 2% audience share from 0.1 and less than 1% last year.

The "Win" finale audience was unchanged from 2006 in Shanghai, China's commercial capital, where the rating for Tuesday's show was 0.2 and 1% of the market.
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