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China OK’s cable TV

BEIJING — China, which says it cracked down on rogue cable TV systems to eliminate pornographic and violent programming, is now embracing the technology under tight regulation, the China Daily reported Tuesday.

Cable television now reaches only 30 million of China’s estimated 800 million TV viewers, mostly in cities.

But its reach is growing rapidly now that it has state approval, the official newspaper said.

“The goal is to set up bigger cable TV networks and produce more programs made in China,” the China Daily quoted television ministry cable TV director Zhou Caifu as saying.

Cable TV’s unchecked proliferation in recent years triggered a sweeping crackdown in 1992 as the communist government feared it was losing control of programming.

Beijing slashed the number of stations, granting licenses last year to just 307 urban and provincial carriers and 437 operated by factories for their work forces.

China’s priority is to wire the major cities for cable. Provincial capitals have been ordered to develop a comprehensive cable television development agenda.

Zhou indicated China would resist mounting pressure from overseas media giants to increase foreign programming, saying it would stress domestic production.

About one-third of China’s cable offerings are dated soap operas and other entertainment programs from the West.

The Communist Party, fearful of losing control of the propaganda machinery, last year cracked down on the fast growth of TV satellite dishes, which had allowed people to tune into offerings from Hong Kong and elsewhere.

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