China closes doors on new foreign-owned TV channels

MUMBAI: Further tightening its grip on foreign media, Beijing has decided to forbid any new foreign-owned TV channel from entering the country. The move will directly hit the expansion plans of Viacom and Disney in China.

Media reports have quoted the official Xinhua news agency as saying, "China will not again allow a foreign satellite TV station to have landing rights in the country."


The ban will seriously affect Disney's entry plans in the country. The company, which had applied for a limited broadcasting license in 2003, is one of the few major media companies without a channel in the market. Viacom's Nickelodeon children's channel, which has applied for a limited broadcasting license in 2003, could also be affected, say reports.

Beijing began allowing new ventures in TV programming only in 2004. But when foreign media firms started taking advantage of the relaxation to come up with new channels, the restrictions started getting tougher.



In April, China's television and film regulator restricted the entry to media companies which held single programming joint venture. The move was meant to curtail the expansion plans of Viacom, which had announced several partnerships.

Last month, the regulator introduced more regulations banning city and provincial broadcasters from associating with foreign media companies. This development impacted Rupert Murdoch's News Corp plans of setting up a JV.

Foreign players which hold mass broadcasting rights in China include News Corp, Viacom's MTV and News Corp-promoted Phoenix Satellite Television in Guangdong. Tom Group has mass broadcast rights in Guangdong with Time Warner while Time Warner's CNN and the BBC news channels, and various channels owned by News Corp's Star TV subsidiary hold limited broadcasting rights in the market.

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