The broadcaster's finances are looked at as state-run media groups are targeted Auditors have launched a seven-month special investigation of the finances of China Central Television, the country's biggest TV network - a sign of a broader campaign targeting state-owned media organisations. A CCTV source told the South China Morning Post that a team from the National Audit Office (NAO) had been based at the network's Beijing headquarters since late October. 'We were notified there would be a thorough audit lasting until May,' the source said. Auditors had been brought to Beijing from offices in other regions to avoid the risk of managers from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft), or other parties, interfering in the investigation, the source said. A National Audit Office employee confirmed the CCTV assessment was under way. 'We only audit organisations like CCTV when the situation demands it,' the auditor said. The audit office periodically reviewed budgets of the country's five state-level media organisations - Sarft, the Xinhua News Agency, the General Administration of Press and Publications, the Foreign Language Publication Bureau and the All-China Journalists Association - the auditor said. However, CCTV and other Sarft subsidiaries - including China Radio International and China Radio - are not subject to regular audits because the administration does not have enough staff to do the work. An accountant for Xinhua said the news agency was not being audited. 'We have had such audits before, but not this time,' she said. CCTV, the biggest generator of media advertising revenue in China, has faced criticism of its accounting systems, employment structure and management. The critics say the network's system of giving a channel or programme producer final authority over finances, personnel and executive management, as well as programme production, provides scope for abuse. They also suggest the concentration of power in the hands of the senior directors of important departments creates the conditions for bribery and abuse. Feng Ji , formerly a deputy director of CCTV's cultural and entertainment programming centre, yesterday lost his appeal in the Beijing High Court against an 11-year prison term for taking bribes, the Beijing Morning Post reported. Feng was convicted of taking more than 600,000 yuan in backhanders from two drama production companies and arranging for their work to be broadcast in prime time. Zhao An, a former director of the centre, was sentenced to 10 years in jail and had 200,000 yuan confiscated for accepting bribes from a songwriter last December. CCTV also has an unwritten rule that freelance and casual employees hand in receipts equal to their monthly salary as a way of evading taxes. Assailed by the scandals, CCTV has begun changing the way it pays and employs people and has reshuffled more than 20 division directors. The CCTV source said part-time employees had not had to hand in receipts since November and TV programme production costs would be claimed according to actual expenses incurred. Media analyst Yu Guoming suggested the tighter rein on finances might have been triggered by government concern at the huge cost of building the network's new headquarters and by official desire to control spending on the project. 'The budget for the new site is estimated to exceed 10 billion yuan,' Professor Yu said. 'The NAO is changing the way it audits media organisations operating on a commercial model.'