It was the first time a Japanese company has been targeted by the programme, which some analysts attributed to the worsening political situation over disputed islands in the East China Sea and Japan's stance on atrocities committed during the second world war.
Previously, only US and European companies had come in for criticism by CCTV. Other companies to have been targeted have been McDonald's, the fast food restaurant, Carrefour, the supermarket chain, and Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods chain.
(Read more: Why a Starbucks grande latte costs more in China)
But CCTV has also stumbled badly in some reports, such as a now infamous spot on Starbucks Coffee in October, which alleged that the company's coffee was too expensive. That prompted a flood of ridicule on social media sites to the effect that while it may be true, one can simply chose not to drink it.
In a statement issued two hours after the broadcast, Nikon China said it "pays great attention to CCTV's report on the Nikon D600", and it had taken steps last month to address quality concerns, as well as offered to replace defective cameras free of charge.
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CCTV quoted irate camera buyers complaining that spots appear on their pictures and that cleaning did not help. It charged that Nikon had refused to replace defective parts or replace or refund malfunctioning cameras.
"Nikon will continue providing quality service to consumers in China, based on an attitude that it takes responsibilities to its customers," the company said via Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter
CCTV's 3.15 is well known to foreign companies working in China, and public relations firms usually staff up the day of the program in case one of their clients "gets hit," in the words of one PR firm employee. Foreign firms develop crisis plans in case their brands are targeted.