New Horizons in China

Hong Kong net reciprocates by carrying SARFT

HONG KONG — China’s Shenzhen Television Station (SZTV) will carry i-Cable’s Horizon Channel beginning today, marking the first time a Hong Kong TV station will be carried in full by a mainland network.

Deal is part of a joint pact that means i-Cable parent Cable Television will carry SZTV’s satellite channel.

China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) took about two months to approve the deal. “We’ve always had a good connection with Shenzhen TV,” said S.K. Chan, a Cable TV spokeswoman. Chan wouldn’t comment on the duration of the contract, but media reports have put it at three years.

SZTV’s channel focuses on news and information but also features lifestyle and entertainment shows. Most of the programs are in Mandarin Chinese, with some in Cantonese.

Horizon Channel, which runs on Cable TV’s channel 51, features cultural and tech programs, as well as entertainment news programs that air during primetime.

I-Cable Satellite Television was set up in 2001 to target the regional market. Horizon Channel stems from that initiative, which explains why its programs are almost entirely in Mandarin, the mother tongue of China, as opposed to Cantonese, the language of Hong Kong.

“We’re still sowing seeds,” Chan said, adding that Cable TV is speaking to different media groups in China that go beyond the immediate region in hopes of expanding.

In China, she said, 10 million-14 million will have access to Horizon Channel.

In Hong Kong, there are 660,000 homes that subscribe to Cable TV.

In other news, Cable TV and Asia Television Ltd. (ATV) have reached an agreement over broadcasting of this year’s UEFA Euro Cup soccer.

Cable TV is the tourney’s exclusive broadcast partner in Hong Kong. It will air all 31 matches live from Portugal.

ATV will show five matches, including a semi-final and the final matches, on a delayed basis. The terrestrial broadcaster will also run 15-minute highlights on match days as well as a weekly one-hour highlight for the duration of the tournament, which runs through June.