cable television

Since the early 1990s, when cable television networks were first introduced to China, they have become one of the principle modes of television reception in China’s major cities. The significance of cable television is enhanced by the fact that direct-to-home satellite television is banned, and all legal reception of satellite channels is through local cable television relays. However, cable television also has a key role to play in the development of broadband services in China.
Cable networks generally supply between twenty and forty channels to subscribers in large cities, including relays of local and national terrestrial channels as well as provincial satellite offerings. The first networks were launched in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing in 1992.
By 1996 there were already some 1,300 cable television networks nationwide.
Key to the development of China’s cable television networks is their emergence from the city, town or county level under the direct control of local offices of the State Administration for Radio Film and Television (SARFT). Cable television networks have often proven to be lucrative sources of revenue for these local television administrators whether through subscriptions, which are modest, or through advertising.
In the early 2000s, SARFT has been keen to unify and centralize the country’s cable television networks, in order to wrest control over content and revenues away from the local level in preparation for the provision of broadband, Internet and multimedia services. It also hopes to strengthen its hand in relation to its rival, the Ministry of Information Industry, which controls telecom operations in the country and currently dominates the small but developing broadband market. However, SARFT faces significant challenges in the task of network unification due to the enormous cost involved both in laying the necessary infrastructure and buying out local operators. The project also faces resistance from vested local interests.
KEVIN LATHAM

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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