TV station hindered by having to operate both as a commercial venture and a propaganda tool Poor ratings, low advertising revenue and satellite footprint problems have prompted the mainland's main television broadcaster to pull the plug on its West China Channel just two years after it was launched. The service, also known as CCTV-12, will disappear on December 28 and be replaced by a channel featuring drama series, legal case studies and talk shows. The West China Channel was part of the central government's Go West campaign and focused on news and information about the region. Its axing is a reflection of low viewer interest in the underdeveloped western region and provides anecdotal evidence of the difficulties Beijing faces in attracting investment to the region. Concerned about the widening income gap with the affluent east coast, Beijing launched the Go West drive to improve development of the western region. But the inflow of investment has been slow, with many investors put off by the region's low-spending population, poor infrastructure and vast bureaucracy. CCTV-12 was the first CCTV channel to separate programme production from broadcasting, buying its programming from 12 television stations in western provinces. It was also the first CCTV subsidiary to operate as a fully commercial enterprise. The channel paid each provincial station an annual fee of 100,000 yuan and also divided 40 per cent of its advertising revenue among them. However, the limited advertising sources in the less-developed western provinces worked against the station achieving its original aim of becoming profitable in three years. The channel's vague organisational status also hindered the venture - it had to operate as a propaganda tool while trying to raise revenue. Tsinghua University media professor Yin Hong said the channel's demise was a result of the station's need to operate both as a commercial operation and a public channel. 'It was originally designed to be a public channel serving as a public educator and information platform with a strong political propaganda imperative,' Professor Yin said. 'And as such it should have received stable financial aid from the government. 'But, in reality, it operated on a market-oriented business model. As a result, the West channel's [identity] became a hodgepodge.' A staff member from the Society and Education Centre, the body managing the launch of the new channel, said senior officials described the change as a 'replacement' rather than a 'cancellation'. The centre's public relations representative, Zhang Guangyi , said the more popular programmes from the old channel would be distributed among other outlets while low-rating content would be dropped.