AOL TW cracks China

Wider CETV carriage boosts Sino footprint

HONG KONG — AOL Time Warner’s Chinese Entertainment Television Broadcast channel (CETV) has won wider carriage across China, three months after News Corp.-backed channels got similar rights.

The Mandarin-lingo entertainment channel, already on air in the southern Guangdong province, is now available via the Sinosat satellite in upscale hotels and residential compounds for foreigners, execs said Tuesday.

This follows a flurry of foreign activity in China’s TV market. In January, InfoNews, of News Corp.-backed Phoenix Satellite Television, and Xingkong Weishi (Starry Sky), of News Corp.-owned Star Group and considered to be CETV’s main competitor, won expanded rights across China from the Guangdong market.

In January, Bloomberg Television received landing rights in designated buildings and Viacom’s MTV China launched in Guangdong in March.

China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television authorized CETV’s license, effective immediately. Aside from central satellite platform distribution, CETV also recently extended its cable TV carriage to two cities in Guangdong, doubling its penetration in this market to more than 2 million homes.

“Not only does the central platform license give the channel a broader presence across mainland China it also elevates the relationship between AOL Time Warner and China to a higher level,” said Steve Marcopoto, president and managing director of Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific.

Permission to distribute CETV to cable homes in Guangdong was granted in 2001, more than a year after AOL Time Warner acquired the Hong Kong company. Official landing rights were also granted to Star and Phoenix.

AOL Time Warner wants to sell a stake in the company to “propel CETV’s growth.”

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