Tue, Feb 15, 2011
Did Chinese TV plant this 'fan' in the audience?

A REAL fan or a fake one planted by television shows?

You may have heard of an unspoken practice where television shows plant "fans" in the audience to clap or laugh enthusiastically, as if what they are watching is indeed entertaining.

These actors - who are usually paid - are known as shills.

Shilling is an illegal practice used in many different fields to engage the interest of a crowd.

The shill usually looks like an average person in the crowd, but his or her enthusiasm plays on crowd psychology to elicit positive response from others.

Magicians employ shills to perform seemingly "magic" tricks, and television shows are also known employ shills to laugh or applaud at a particular moment.

Some informercials have been taped with numerous shills - people who look like an average audience but are in fact paid actors who seem interested in the product.

A recent incident that many might remember is that a group of Chinese actors were allegedly paid by North Korea to cheer for the North Korean team at the World Cup in South Africa.

A search on the Internet generated a discussion on whether shills are used at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) shows.

Common practice or conspiracy theory?

A website in China is questioning whether a shill was used in their Spring Festival gala shows over the past years.

Website China Smack reported that Chinese netizens have long suspected a shill in the audience of the annual CCTV New Year's Gala, a popular television program broadcast on the eve of Chinese New Year.

Nicknamed "Fat Brother" and "Smiling Face Brother" for his cheerful and "robust" appearance, this man was spotted by netizens in the audience at every show since 2001.

This discovery was posted on popular Chinese discussion forum Tianya, which soon spread to other forums and portals such as Mop and NetEase.

Many netizens, however, are not surprised that CCTV would have paid a shill to attend their shows.

Shill or not? See for yourself:

Click on thumbnail to view
For more photos, click here.
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