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Major cities to shut off analogue television
( 2003-10-27 09:16) (China Daily)

China plans to shut down analogue television broadcast operations in 33 major cities by the end of 2005, even though some insiders say the target date might not be met because of the lagging state of digital television's development.

Also in 2005, Chinese officials said, if all goes as planned, they will begin satellite broadcasting on more than 120 digital channels, a State Administration of Radio, Film and Television announcement said.

That should mean that residents in China's major cities will be able to watch digital broadcasts of all the Beijing 2008 Olympics action.

Earlier this year, the administration designated 33 major cities as trial broadcast sites for digital cable, hoping to sign up at least 30 million digital subscribers by the year 2005.

To reach that goal, the administration estimated that at least 1 million digital subscribers needed to sign up this year, said Zhang Haitao, the administration's deputy director. The administration also plans to begin 30 digital pay-television channels this year, he said.

"However, the timetable for closing analogue television broadcasting is likely to be prolonged," He Gongming, who is in charge of Beijing's digital cable development, said in a phone interview.

Beijing has already opened three digital cable television channels on a trial basis.

"Part of our programme production and the whole transmission process of the three digital television channels have been digitized," He said.

Such cable television subscribers pay less than 700 yuan (US$84) to rent a decoding appliance to transmit digital codes into analog codes which their analog TV sets recognize.

But most Beijing's cable television subscribers have not even seen what digital television is like.

"I am very curious about what digital television technology can bring us," said Xiao Ye, a Beijing college instructor. "But I will wait till our country finally decides on a standard. Then I will buy a good quality TV set and fully enjoy digital television at home."

At present, China is adopting one of Europe's digital television transmission standards as a transitional standard, said Bai Weimin, an official with the Ministry of Information Industry.

Bai stressed that research will finally come out with standards that meet China's own intellectual property rights and are compatible with current standards.

At present, various research groups in China are working on a digital television plan.

Experts from home and abroad presented researches on the most effective and feasible schemes at an international symposium on the latest trends for digital TV development in Beijing held on October 23 and 24.

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