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Investment in CBC to expand coverage in rural regions
China Mobile Communications Corp will strengthen its presence in the domestic broadcasting industry by becoming a minority shareholder in China Broadcast Corp, which provides mobile multimedia broadcasting services.
Wang Jianzhou, chairman of China Mobile, said the company will invest in CBC, providing capital and helping it to expand network coverage in China, especially in rural areas.
As a company founded by the State Administration of Radio Film and Television in 2005, CBC operates a national network that allows people to watch TV programs on various devices, including mobile phones, tablets and vehicle global positioning systems.
As of Dec 31, CBC was serving 336 cities, or 800 million people, in China. Subscribers to its free and paid services reached 40 million in 2011, according to the 21st Century Business Herald.
Zhang Haitao, deputy director-general of SARFT, said earlier this year at a Beijing conference that CBC aims to have 100 million subscribers within three years.
China Mobile signed an agreement with the broadcaster three years ago to promote CBC's domestic mobile multimedia broadcasting network.
Under that agreement, CBC was able to add its services to mobile phones running on China Mobile's third-generation wireless network.
"We found the cooperation model was pretty good, so we decide to make a direct investment in CBC," Wang said.
He added that China Mobile's participation in the broadcasting industry will concentrate on mobile telecommunications, and it doesn't plan to develop partnerships for fixed-line services.
However, Chinese media have reported that China Mobile is negotiating with regulators about a broader cooperation portfolio that would go beyond the CBC deal.
"China Mobile can make use of broadcasters' networks and get access to the fixed line broadband business, which is now dominated by China Telecom and China Unicom," said Bao Ran, an industry insider.
Cao Shuming, head of the China Academy of Telecommunication Research, said on Sunday that a national broadcasting network company would be launched by SARFT by June.
The authority will consolidate about 1,000 radio and television networks at various administrative levels into a single, national network.