The money China's Central Television (CCTV) drew from advertisers saw a 15.77 percent increase this year, based partly on ad-space being sold for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Rates, including bids from home and abroad, hit 6.8 billion yuan (US$860 million), according to CCTV.
Procter & Gamble had the highest bidding rates at 420 million yuan (US$53 million). It was followed by drinks firm Wanglaoji, dairy company Mengniu, pharmaceuticals firm Minsheng, and home appliance maker Haier. Bidding rates from international and domestic companies increased by 25 percent and 21 percent.
"The result signals increasing confidence in the Chinese economy and CCTV's role in it," said Liu Fengjun, a professor at the corporate management department of the Renmin University of China Business School.
This year, CCTV added Olympic-related slots into the ads bidding list. The slots, whose bidding rates reached 941 million yuan (US$119 million), drove up this year's bidding rates, which were 926 million yuan (US$117 million) higher than last year.
"The year 2007 is only a starting point for companies cashing in on the Olympics, and the trend will undoubtedly reach its highest peak in 2008," said Jiang Minghua, a professor at the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University.
In past years, domestic companies from major cities played a dominant role in the bidding. This year, companies from China's northern, southern, and southwestern regions played a larger role.
The advertising rates from these regions increased 30 percent, 33 percent, and 41 percent respectively year-on-year.
The food and beverage sector was still the biggest in terms of bidding rates, growing 42.95 percent year-on-year.
Financial firms increased bidding by 14.05 percent year-on-year.
As China's largest television group, CCTV is seen as a powerful branding tool for many firms.
"A clear mind on what you want to get from the bidding is very, very important," said Lisa Wei, director manager with GroupM Trading China, a media buying company.
For domestic companies, bidding sometimes plays a role that goes far beyond brand promotion. "Bidding for CCTV ads could bring local companies numerous benefits like getting more preferential loans and property from the local government," said Yuan Fang, a researcher with the Communication University of China.
(China Daily November 21, 2006)