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Pay-TV in the pipeline
By Wen Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-08-28 00:59

Pay-TV service will be rolled out in the country on September 1.

Sun Yusheng, president of China Central Digital Television announced on Friday that the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) has approved pay-TV packages from four media groups, in addition to China Central Television (CCTV).

Since August 9, CCTV has been offering a free six-channel package that includes sports, music and TV serials and documentaries after preparing for one year for the launch.

The pay-TV channels, of which there could be up to 10, will cost each subscriber 58 yuan per month.

"The charge for digital TV channels will show China is walking into the era of pay-TV service," said Sun.

In order to promote pay-TV and speed up the move to digital broadcasting, free set-top converter boxes will be offered, said a source from State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

Sun said that although the central government supports the pay-TV service, the industry still faces many obstacles, like a lack of experience in pricing and packaging and a lack of high-quality content.

Due to fierce competition from almost 50 domestic free-to-air channels, the future of pay-TV service is hard to predict, said Sun, adding that CCTV will continue to provide service even if there is a shortage of subscribers in September.

Nevertheless, Sun said the huge domestic market can ensure a significant demand for pay-TV.

"Even if 7 per cent of 100 million cable TV users sign on for digital pay-TV, this would equate 7 million subscribers," said Sun.

Executives from China and foreign media industry insiders met at the fifth annual Sino International Cable TV Executive Management Conference from Thursday to Friday to discuss future opportunities and challenges created by digital TV.

The conference has become a major window for Chinese media to show itself and learn foreign management and marketing strategies.

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