China’s government has issued digital television broadcasting licenses to four companies, ending the state monopoly. The move is also intended to increase competition and innovation in China’s nascent digital broadcasting industry.
However, the move is not as open as first appears – the four companies are themselves state owned. The companies are CHC Home Cinema, China Broadcast Network Company, Shanghai TV, and a five company consortium including China National Radio.
By opening up digital broadcasting in this way, the government hopes to create more opportunities for private and foreign-funded ventures, though foreign companies are not allowed to hold broadcast licenses. Regulators have approved a small number of overseas channels for broadcast on cable in Guangdong and hotels, though much of the overseas investment is likely to take the form of creating content, developing platforms and infrastructure.
A recent project in Qingdao converted 600,00 homes to digit television, with 60 government channels. China is expected to have 30 million viewers by 2008.