Advertising Up 12.5% For China’s Biggest Broadcaster
Foreign and Chinese advertisers will pay about $2.25 billion next year for time on China’s biggest television network CCTV. That’s up roughly 12.5% over 2011. That may seem high compared to the rest of the world which is generally chalking up low single-digit growth, but China has been accustomed to annual hikes ranging from 15% to 18.5% during the past five years. Similar to the US networks’ upfront market, CCTV’s auction of TV time for the coming year is seen as a benchmark for not only China’s ad industry but the country’s economy as a whole. One of the largest bidders was white-spirits company Kweichow Moutai Co., which pledged $78.4 million. Bank of China committed $12 million for a 10-second slot after the evening news in January and February during peak viewership for special Chinese New Year programming. Internet companies including and Alibaba were the fastest growing advertisers representing a 7.7% increase over 2011. In general Western companies were less aggressive this year, but Volkswagen AG was one of the largest foreign advertisers according to Beijing ad agency Charm Communications. Procter & Gamble Co. pledged $25.2 million. Separately, CCTV plans to open a new HQ in Washington, D.C., in January as part of an agressive foreign expansion.

Duncan Gray Named Creative Director Of Princess Productions
Princess Productions today announced the appointment of Duncan Gray, currently Head of Entertainment Commissioning for Sky. Gray will join the company as Creative Director in early 2012, reporting to Princess Productions CEO/founder Henrietta Conrad. His brief is to build on the indie’s entertainment and comedy entertainment output. Gray will work alongside Kelly Webb-Lamb, who is promoted to Director of Factual Programmes, reporting to Conrad. Since joining Sky in 2009, Gray has commissioned a series of breakout hits for Sky 1 including A League of Their Own and Got To Dance (a co-production between Princess Productions and Shine TV) and recently also commissioned The Jo Whiley Music Show for Sky Arts. He was formally Controller of Entertainment at ITV. Henrietta Conrad said: “Duncan has an exceptional mind and an intuitive feel for popular, quality and entertaining television. Having had the pleasure of working together many times, I know what a great addition he will be to the team and the positive and creative influence he will have on our output.”

‘Keith Lemon: The Film’ rolls from Lionsgate UK
Production gets underway November 17 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Lionsgate UK’s Keith Lemon: The Film starring the popular host of Celebrity Juice and Verne Troyer. It’s the first feature for Lemon who previously partnered with Lionsgate UK on fitness parody DVD Keith Lemon’s Fit! Described as a comedy about Keith following his dreams of becoming a successful entrepreneur like Richard Branson, The Film script is by Leigh Francis and by director Paul Angunawela, Mark Huffam (Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, Game of Thrones, Mamma Mia!, Johnny English), Simon Bosanquet (Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Whole Lotta Sole) and Aidan Elliott for Belfast-based Generator Entertainment. Zygi Kamasa, CEO of Lionsgate UK will executive produce along with Nick Manzi and Emma Berkofsky. In addition Northern Ireland Screen, funding comes from London post house Molinare.