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Satellite TV in Chongqing has resumed broadcasting TV series in prime time, one year after it dropped all sitcoms and commercials to forge the first provincial-level "red channel".
Starting Monday, TV series and a news program have replaced programs that promote social morals and revolutionary traditions in prime time (7:30 pm to 11 pm) at the Chongqing Satellite TV channel.
The broadcasting of Daily Red Songs, a gala program that displays a grassroots chorus of red songs, will also be reduced from a daily to a weekly basis.
The latest move is made to "cater to the taste of audiences and follow the management pattern of television channels", a spokesman for the channel was quoted on Monday by Chongqing Daily.
Ding Daoyi, chief of Chongqing Broadcasting Group, told China Daily that the revolutionary programs will be preserved but no longer broadcast in prime time.
According to Chongqing Daily, the channel denied that it will restore commercials in this round of program adjustment.
The satellite TV of Chong-qing is the exclusive red content provider among its provincial counterparts in China.
It also stopped commercial advertisements in March 2011 to further orient itself to a red and public service channel.
In July 2008, the Chong-qing government said that red songs should be sung at official events held on days of national importance. A little less than a year later, the government announced a series of steps to promote the development and prosperity of red culture.
Huang Qifan, mayor of Chongqing, said in 2011 that banning TV commercials at the satellite TV was part of the municipality's effort to forge the television into a public service channel resembling the BBC in the United Kingdom.
Huang said the banning of commercials will cause the television group a loss of 300 million yuan ($48 million) a year and local finances will cover half the losses.
Research by CSM Media Research, a venture dedicated to TV and radio audience measurement, shows that in 2011 the satellite channel only ranked 23 among its provincial counterparts, a further slump from its 15th ranking in 2010 and ninth in 2009. It ranked third in 2007.
"I think the program adjustment at Chongqing Satellite TV this time is a step back to normal," said Huang Hua, president of Wowa Media, a company dedicated to media consultation and research.
Huang Hua said on Monday that even though the satellite television of Chongqing is different from other provincial satellite televisions in the programs it provides, it still has the same kind of operation and management system.
"In the West, public service television provides the public with educational, cultural and serious programs. They not only ban television commercials but also have objective and independent programs that serve the public interest," Kan Yu'na, a researcher at the industry research center at Sichuan University, wrote in an article published in a media research journal at the end of 2011.
However, Wang Xiaoxiao, a 27-year-old Chongqing resident, said the adjustment of programs this time does not affect him much as his interest mainly lies in sports and news programs provided by the local television.
Luo Wangshu in Beijing contributed to this story.