China to create single cable entity

Regional radio, TV and web companies to merge

BEIJING — China is firming up plans to merge around 1,000 regional radio, TV and Internet broadcasting systems into a single national cable TV network company.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) said the new company will be up and running by the end of the year and will further expand into new businesses like mobile TV and online videos.

“The nation’s radio and television networks need to be consolidated under one roof as currently they are individually run and have not developed into large-scale entities,” Tao Shiming, a SARFT official, told the China Daily.

The consolidation would start at the provincial level before moving on to the national level, Tao said.

SARFT believes that bringing 1,000 networks together under a single operator and administration would increase competitiveness as the new entity would be better equipped to make use of new technology.

“All networks in the nation are likely to be integrated in three years,” the deputy secretary-general of the cable TV committee of the China Radio and Television Association, Zeng Huiming, was quoted as saying.

The new company would have a start-up investment of around $11.8 billion, with contributions from the government and broadcasters, the report said.

The government last month launched a pilot project in 12 cities to test the convergence of the three networks. The trials are expected to last till 2012 and will focus on connecting the broadcasting and telecom networks.

China’s media is tightly controlled by the state and news channels in particularly are closely censored by the ruling Communist Party.

Internet content is censored by a system of controls known as The Great Firewall of China, while the government is also censoring mobile content as online business using cellphones expands.

The report made no mention of state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) and whether it would be part of the plan.

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