BEIJING: China Central Television, the voice of the nation's Communist party, has opened hostilities on locally-based search engines, with  Baidu and Google both reportedly the targets of ongoing sniping.

In a report broadcast last week, the state-owned channel slammed search engines for running ads for non-licensed medical websites and feature footage of what looks to be the Google China site.

The latest TV broadside, obliquely targeting Google, follows a month-long campaign directed at Baidu, the nation's most popular search portal – alongside which (by local standards) Google is a Little League player.

The TV attack claims that ads of unlicensed websites selling medicines or treatments are illegal, although this view is challenged both by the online industry and legal experts. in the industry and among lawyers.

Says Edward Yu, ceo of local market researcher Analysys: "One can only guess about the motives behind this latest move, but it has the potential of throwing the online ad market into disarray."

The effect of the campaign, if any, on Google is unknown. But Baidu shares have taken a downward dive and the firm last week cut its Q4 revenue forecast by 14%.

The most recent barrage targets the online ads that search engines traditionally display in a panel on the right of the screen, separated from the main search results.

Google said it had removed the ads highlighted in the latest CCTV reports and reiterated that strict rules are in operation to ensure that none of its ads infringe Chinese law.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff