China station admits it pre-recorded New Year's drone show

BEIJING • A Shanghai TV station has acknowledged that footage of a formation of 2,000 drones flying over the city that was broadcast on New Year's Eve had actually been recorded days before.

The footage had been the highlight of Dragon TV's holiday gala and was presented as a live event. News organisations including The Associated Press ran the video.

However, residents in the Chinese financial hub said they had witnessed no such event, prompting the network to issue a statement saying the performance was rehearsed and recorded on Dec 26 and Dec 27 because of safety concerns about the size of the crowd along the city's famous riverfront Bund on New Year's Eve.

"Owing to the high crowd at the Bund on New Year's Eve, watching the drone show may cause safety problems, so the rehearsal and recording time of the drone was moved forward," the station said in its statement.

The decision was likely informed by memories of a stampede on the Bund on Dec 31, 2014, in which 36 people were killed and 49 injured when a crowd of 300,000 gathered to watch a light show. Several city officials were fired or otherwise reprimanded over the tragedy.

Large crowd sizes in China during holidays are a regular worry, resulting in everything from crushing deaths to massive traffic jams.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 05, 2020, with the headline 'China station admits it pre-recorded New Year's drone show'. Subscribe