Murdoch scans a possible JV with CCTV

MUMBAI: Four years after his media empire News Corp crossed the great wall of China, media moghul Rupert Murdoch will launch a joint venture with China pubcaster China Central Television (CCTV).

A report in the Telegraph indicates that this will be the national state broadcaster's first foreign joint production venture. Last year the Chinese government had allowed overseas players into the market under certain stipulations.

Fox has a 50 per cent stake in National Geographic Channel (NGC). NGC supplies CCTV with documentaries. Now the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong has reported that NGC and CCTV will start a fully fledged joint venture company. It will produce up to 300 hours of content annually.

Under the rules, which China agreed to implement under accession terms to the World Trade Organisation, the foreign partner can hold up to 49 per cent stake of the new firm. The state must still be a majority stockholder in all media and publishing companies.

In an official statement NGC has confirmed that discussions are going on which aim at creating a long-term partnership with CCTV. However NGC declined to comment on the structure of the potential partnership or the timetable for formalising it.

The statement says, "Our documentaries feature the remarkable works and expeditions of scientists, explorers and adventurers, and cover genres such as science, mystery, wildlife, people and cultures, travel and adventure, and natural phenomena."

The Telegraph report points out that Murdoch's strategic goal has always been television. He has a stake in Phoenix, a Hong Kong broadcaster which is watched via satellite by more than 40 million people in China, thanks to lax enforcement of rules under which it should be restricted to hotels and foreigners' residences. Star also has restricted viewing rights in China.

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