Read more in GT Daily Special: CCTV under pressure to keep Spring Festival Gala fresh
The annual China Central Television (CCTV) Spring Festival gala has become a hot topic just days before it is due to screen, not for its programs, but after a director revealed that the gala has been upgraded to the status of "national project," putting it alongside the 2008 Beijing Olympics in terms of significance.
The man who revealed the news, the gala's chief executive director Lü Yitao, told China Newsweek magazine that "This is the first time that I have heard about the upgrade. All parties involved in it want to do better this time."
According to Lü, who has prepared the gala twice, the gala was previously labeled a "CCTV president project" but is now a "national project." He did not elaborate on the significance of this, except to cite the Beijing Olympics when referring to national projects.
This in turn has prompted Net users to question whether this means the gala will receive more money from the government.
Zhang Yiwu, a sociology professor from Peking University, said that the status of the gala has always been equivalent to a national project.
"Not only domestic people watch the gala on the Spring Festival eve, but also overseas Chinese. It has become an important part of the Chinese Spring Festival culture after being held for more than 30 years," Zhang said.
This was true during the gala's heyday in the 1980s and 1990s, when audiences had more limited options and almost everyone tuned in to watch the Gala on Chinese lunar new year's eve. In recent years, however, some people have been choosing to watch other programs.
According to an online survey on qq.com held at the end of 2012, more than 70 percent of participants believed that the CCTV gala should be scrapped.
Lü told the magazine that the new gala will stress creative, innovative themes, and a big highlight this year is the identity of the gala's director, commercial filmmaker Feng Xiaogang.
Xinhua contributed to this story