'Millionaire' heading for China


LONDON -- "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" will begin airing in China this May, Celador International parent 2waytraffic said Tuesday.

Announcing a raft of new deals including a two-year renewal with Buena Vista International, the Dutch company, acquired by 2waytraffic in December, said it has inked a deal with Chinese Media Power that will see the Chinese company produce a minimum of 104 episodes for nationwide broadcast.

To comply with local regulations, the Chinese version of the show will feature celebrities only, with all prize money being donated to charity. Celador said it will probably need to change the name of the show in China -- since one million Chinese Yuan is the equivalent of just £65,000 ($129,000).

"Bringing the charity version of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' to China will be both entertaining and rewarding," said Claude Yuen, executive producer of China Media Power. "We are very confident that this show will become one of the most popular and meaningful shows in China."

2waytraffic CEO Kees Abrahams said the format can successfully be altered to fit the Chinese market.

"We are delighted to be bringing 'Millionaire' to China, our first major deal in the territory," he said. "We are looking forward to working closely with China Media Power to create a version of the show which will both prove popular with viewers while also satisfying the specific conditions of China's broadcasting environment."

Additionally, Celador announced that it has extended its deal with Buena Vista Television by another two years, which will keep the syndicated U.S. version of "Millionaire" on air until 2011.

In other deals, Slovenian state broadcaster RTV signed a pact to produce a minimum of 40 episodes of the series, while in Slovakia, Slovak Television has agreed terms for a minimum of 35 episodes. Formerly broadcast in Slovenia on Pop TV and in Slovakia on TV Markiza, the show is due to relaunch in both territories this spring.