Business was brisk at yesterday's auction of prime-time advertising slots by state broadcaster China Central Television. A Nanjing food company, Yurun Group, yesterday bid 50.1 million yuan (HK$58.24 million) to win the prime 7.5-second advertising slot after the main CCTV evening newscast for two months, 6 per cent more than the winning bid last year. TV drama sponsorship for the first half of next year went to dairy producer Mengniu, for more than 230 million yuan, with personal-hygiene-product company Nice Group getting the second half of the year for 150 million yuan. Luzhou Laojiao, a liquor producer, said it had committed 400 million yuan for advertising on CCTV and would add to that if business went well. More companies joined the bidding this year, with newcomers including municipal banks and the makers of environmentally friendly cars. CCTV revenue rose by more than 15 per cent to 12.6 billion yuan this year, a 17-year high. The auction for sponsorship of next year's Spring Festival Gala was also hotly contested, with advertising commitments jumping 30 per cent to 650 million yuan for the last show. Industry observers estimate that the gala drew more than 730 million viewers this year. The level of product placement in the last gala drew many complaints on the internet. But a senior sales official from the station had previously said it planned to expand product placement next year. However, the station's deputy director for major shows, Chen Lin, assured viewers yesterday that there would be no product placement in next year's gala.