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China OKs Hong Kong Broadcaster

October 21, 2001

BEIJING (AP) _ In a small milestone for China’s restricted television market, China has granted a Hong Kong-based television channel the right to broadcast to a limited region in the south of the country, a state-run newspaper said.

Phoenix is the first foreign television network to be allowed to broadcast legally in China. The decision formalizes Phoenix’s already substantial Chinese presence.

Hotels, some upscale apartments in cities and some government offices already get Phoenix, started in 1996. So do millions of Chinese homes that use satellite dishes in defiance of a government ban. Phoenix and industry analysts says some 42 million Chinese homes already receive the network.

The government’s director of radio, film and television, Xu Guangchun, announced Friday that Phoenix’s Chinese channel has been formal permitted to broadcast through cable in the Pearl River Delta, an economically booming area of southern Guangdong province, the Yangcheng Evening News reported in its Saturday editions.

Phoenix’s normal schedule is a mass-market mix of talk shows, sports, dramas from Hong Kong and game shows from Taiwan. The station also has attracted an audience for its news programming while taking care not to offend China’s communist rulers.

STAR, a News Corp. subsidiary that is a major shareholder in Phoenix, welcomed the formal approval to broadcast as ``yet another milestone″ for the network.

Xu also said Phoenix and state-run China Central Television will form a joint venture to promote CCTV overseas, the newspaper said.

The venture ``will help Chinese television media move toward the world,″ Xu was quoted as saying.

China’s communist leaders view television as a vital propaganda tool and have tightly controlled the country’s airwaves. Foreign TV channels can be seen in hotels and luxury housing, but government regulations prohibited foreign broadcasters from reaching TV audiences directly.

Update hourly