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Friday, 23 February, 2001, 11:51 GMT
Pirate Chinese TV defies state
Chinese boys gather to watch TV
The pirate TV station is hugely popular
Chased from province to province, fined, threatened with closure - yet a pirate Chinese TV station continues to evade officials and find increasing popularity with its village audiences.

In a country where stringent media control and censorship is the norm, and even the internet is tightly regulated, officials have proved powerless to close down Donglan TV, a private station run without official authorisation in east-central China.

Shanghai TV tower
Puny rival is a thorn in the side of the state broadcaster
News of the pirate TV station was published on the website of China's Legal Daily.

Despite repeated attempts by local authorities to close the TV down, it continues to broadcast its popular mix of Hong Kong films, music tracks and sex videos, the newspaper reported.

Before its launch last year, Donglan's entrepreneurs set about building a 70-metre transmission tower under the eyes of local government and party officials.

When ordered to stop broadcasting, they simply dismantled the tower and moved it to the neighbouring county of Dongming.

In touch

Unlike the state-run media, which is widely regarded as out of touch with popular culture, Donglan TV encourages feedback from viewers.

Presenter on Central China TV
State media - out of touch
It lets the local villagers place advertisements, make music requests and send messages.

One villager, on the death of an old man, sent a message of condolence to be broadcast by the station.

For 500 yuan ($60), Donglan will run advertisements along the edge of the screen during the highly-rated Hong Kong comedy and action films.

Ten yuan ($1.20) will get you a slot for your requested music video, while opera will set you back some 100 yuan ($12).

A notice on the wall of the pirate station reads: "No credit is given for advertising. Payment must be made in advance."

Such is the popularity of the station that when government officials moved to shut it down, they were met by a crowd of 100 angry protesters, who stopped them from entering the building.

So Donglan continues to defy Chinese officialdom and cultivate its eight-month tradition of popular broadcasting.

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See also:

29 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
China moves to control internet
24 Sep 98 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese viewing figures soar
02 Jun 99 | Monitoring
China curbs satellite TV and Internet
09 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
China's changing media
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