Chinese TV dials up mobile service

Service will be bundled in packages at various price levels

SHANGHAI — Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television this week launched its first mobile phone TV service in collaboration with the country’s two mobile telecom giants.

The new service, which was announced on CCTV’s Web site, will be bundled in packages at various price levels once the trial phase is over.

Network, customer service and sales will be run by China Mobile and China Unicom, the mainland’s only licensed mobile phone network operators.

While terrestrial, satellite and cable television in China fall under the auspices of the State Administration for Radio, Film & Television (Sarft), mobile phone networks are controlled by the Ministry of Information Industry, making this a regulatory minefield. Also, there is still no agreement in China on which mobile broadcast standards to adhere to. In October, Sarft issued its own guidelines on mobile TV technical standards, but few cellphone manufacturers make phones to that standard.

Currently in the trial phase, CCTV announced it is broadcasting free mobile content from the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, this week. A full, higher quality signal will be introduced in time for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, a CCTV spokesman said earlier this week.