BEIJING: China Central Television reports that bidding for 2007 commercials airtime closed at Yuan 6.79 billion ($862m; €670m; £454m), a rise of 16% on the previous year. Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble led the bidders for the fourth consecutive year, at Yuan 420m.

Chinese banks and automakers were also prominent among those buying advertising, in advance of market relaxation next year when foreign businesses will provide stiffer competition.

Comments Sun Xianhong, vice chairman of advertiser Meng Niu Dairy: "CCTV's advertising charges have been rising in recent years as the Chinese economy maintains robust growth. Enterprises are devoting more attention to advertising, with long-term effects influencing their decision-making."

The forthcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics have fuelled games-related advertising to a combined value of Yuan 370 million for next year.

Says Zhang Weiying, professor at Beijing University: "Since the Olympic Games will not open until 2008, it is imperative for enterprises to enhance their brand image in 2007."

Data sourced from People's Daily Online / Xinhua; additional content by WARC staff