Beijing – China’s government announced it is replacing the head of China Central Television (CCTV), three months after a fire destroyed part of CCTV’s new headquarters in Beijing. In a brief report, state-run Xinhua news agency said 61-year-old Zhao Huayong is being replaced because he had reached retirement age. It said Zhao is being succeeded by top propaganda official Jiao Li, vice minister of the publicity department of the Communist Party’s Central Committee. Jiao was previously propaganda director for the northeastern province of Liaoning (which borders North Korea), and was one of the principals involved in launching China’s first publicly traded publishing group, the Shanghai-listed Liaoning Publishing Group in 2007. Jiao will take the helm at a difficult time for the state broadcaster. The CCTV fire on February 9 started a storm of questioning about the institution’s management. The fire was sparked by a display of illegal fireworks to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday near the nearly completed headquarters, which did not have fire-prevention systems installed. The fire gutted a boot-shaped tower, right next to the colossal main headquarters building. The debacle left one firefighter dead. The destroyed building was intended to be a revenue generator for CCTV, with the top floors leased to house the Mandarin Oriental’s flagship China hotel, and the lower floors housing television studios intended both for rental and for CCTV’s own use.
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