Chinese sat war looms

China channels TV efforts into satellite programming

BEIJING — China’s 30 provincial television stations continue to launch new satellite channels, adding to the growing competition for national coverage.

Anhui TV and Heilongjiang TV have officially uplinked to satellite since the middle of October, and have a footprint that covers China and more than 50 territories in Eastern Europe, Asia and the north Pacific.

The government has also approved Jiangsu TV to launch its satellite channel in December.

Beijing TV, the country’s second-strongest broadcaster after China Central Television (CCTV), has been approved to launch a satellite channel on Jan. 1. Beijing’s bid to start satellite broadcast has been delayed due to political wrangling, since it will eventually compete head-to-head with CCTV, which has had a monopoly on national coverage since 1949.

The government currently prohibits direct to home broadcast, so the new satellite channels have been forced to cobble together a distribution network through China’s budding cable network, which now claims more than 50 million households.

Meanwhile, facing growing competition at home, CCTV has been moving to expand its signal coverage overseas.

CCTV 4, the national network’s 5 year old international channel, has reached agreement with Mexico’s Grupo Televisa SA for coverage in Latin America.

CCTV chief Yang Weiguang announced the deal during a recent trip to Mexico. Under the agreement, Televisa will have the exclusive right to broadcast CCTV 4’s signal to Spanish speaking countries in Latin America.

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