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February 13, 2010

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Credit tiff halts TV gala skit

A comic skit enmeshed in a plagiarism scandal was pulled out of the Lunar New Year's TV gala, one day before it was to be on tonight.

It is the first plagiarism dispute in the history of Central China Television Lunar New Year's Eve Gala, a four-hour extravaganza that has been a tradition for almost all Chinese people.

The skit by Huang Hong and Gong Hanling, two veteran comedians in China, was allegedly adapted from an article written by Ma Weidu, a well-known antiques collector and blogger. The article was based on one of Ma's travel experiences.

But CCTV refused to give Ma his due credit for the skit, telling him that another author named Chen Zhihong wanted to share the byline.

Angered by the suggestion, Ma accused Chen of stealing his plot and decided to charge CCTV 150,000 yuan for using his idea. The gala producers paid only 1,000 to 2,000 yuan to the other skit author. Ma claimed he would give the 150,000 yuan to charity.

CCTV finally pulled the plug on the skit yesterday. Huang and Gong are now striving to work out a new routine to fill the slot.

Huang, from northeast China, has been performing in the New Year's Gala for 22 years. The gala made him a household name in China.

The CCTV New Year's Gala has become a premier television event in China since its start in 1982. More than 1 billion Chinese people watch the show every year.

Tonight's New Year's Gala, like its predecessors, will be a night of skits and dramas, dance and songs, and family chitchats over snacks.

Though the popularity of the show is on the decline amid complaints about its predictability, the TV rating of the gala still reaches nearly 35 percent in China, and in northeastern provinces up to 88 percent.


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