BBC hopes to launch channel in China

MUMBAI: Three years after it was given the unceremonious heave-ho for "infringing" state broadcasting rules, BBC is eyeing a return to China with the launch of its channel.

Representatives from BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, are to visit China this summer with plans for a television channel. The corporations' focus is on international expansion plans as the commercial unit announced record profits of £55 million for 2004/05, a year on year increase of 50 per cent.

International expansion of both the channels and TV sales business is a crucial part of the corporation's plans. BBC Worldwide chief executive and chief operating officer John Smith will head a team of between five and 10 senior Worldwide executives hoping to start discussions with several joint venture partners as well as the Chinese government in August, informs media reports.

The division, which operates international channels including BBC America, BBC Kids in Canada and the BBC Food channel in the Middle East and Africa, is keen to look at other territories. China is on the list of the countries where channel expansion is on the agenda, according to a media report.

A kids channel in the US has, however, been mentioned previously by Simth as one possibility. BBC Worldwide will be announcing the appointment of a new managing director of global channels some time soon.

According to a media report, Smith said that he was "pretty confident" of meeting his target to double profits from £37m last year to £74m next year.

But relations with the Chinese authorities have been at times strained over the corporation's coverage of news events.

In 1994, Rupert Murdoch attempted to appease the Chinese government by removing BBC World from his Star satellite platform in the country, after dissatisfaction was expressed at BBC coverage of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

In 2002, the Chinese International Television Corporation temporarily ejected BBC World from the Sinosat 1 satellite service on the basis of unfavourable reports on the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

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