Auds resist digital as analog shutoff looms

Org aiming for 30 million cable subs by 2005

SHANGHAI — China’s TV authorities are sticking to plans to turn off the analog system in 2015, but the introduction of digital technology is taking its time.

At a recent cable event in Beijing, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) said it was aiming for 30 million digital cable subscribers by 2005. At present, there are only 90,000 subs in 40 cities.

China has about 350 million TVs, of which roughly 110 million are cable connected. Many viewers say the extra costs of digital cable are prohibitive. Monthly subscriptions average $3.80, but an encoder ranges from $150 and up. SARFT sources say subs cover the costs of present programming only and that they will have to rise to improve technology and content.

Digital TV is being promoted first in China’s richer eastern cities, but the move west will come soon, according to SARFT officials. China is keen to keep up with the West when it comes to the technology. The U.S. and much of Western Europe plan to go digital by 2010.

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