CNBC nears deal with China b’caster

Government has yet to approve partnership

SHANGHAI — CNBC Asia Pacific is on the verge of pacting with one of China’s powerful regional broadcasters, the Shanghai Media Group.

SMG prexy Li Ruigang gave guarded confirmation that a “strategic partnership” would be signed Thursday, adding negotiations have taken place over the past six months. The partnership is likely to involve content sharing and financial information, though Li would say only that it contained “several items of cooperation.”

The government has yet to approve the deal.

CNBC is one of many foreign broadcasters keen to gain a toehold in China, and this deal signals a new openness among local TV groups to foreign participation.

SMG is part of the giant local conglom Shanghai Media & Entertainment Group, which has interests in television, film, radio, theater and local sports clubs.

CNBC has been trying to raise its profile in China for some time. It is reported the company initially approached China Central Television, but talks about an alliance fell through.

About 30 foreign broadcasters, including CNBC, air on China’s satellite system, though its reach is limited to compounds for foreign residents and guests at high-end hotels. Some overseas media groups — including News Corp. and AOL Time Warner — also have access to the cable market in a restricted area of China’s southern Guangdong province.

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