Satellite TV to serve 300 million homes in China

Almost 300 million mainland households in China are set to gain access to cable-quality TV services that have so far been restricted to China’s more urban areas with the launch of Direct-to-Home (DTH) satellite TV next month, South China Morning Post reports. The Sinosat 2 satellite, developed by Sino Satellite Communication, will help fill the needs for TV broadcasting, direct personal computer connections and broadband multimedia systems in China as well as neighbouring regions for 15 years.

Sino Satellite competitors such as Hong-Kong-listed APT Holdings and Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings may benefit from the launch of DTH services by leasing more transponder capacity to mainland TV service providers as the number of channels in the country increases. A new firm led by the Chinese Central Television’s China Cable Television Networks Group will be set up as the country’s first DTH satellite service provider.

The expanded reach to rural areas should boost the country’s move to digital TV, which allows an increased number of channels to be sent via cable or satellite and is expected to attract more advertisers, analysts said. APT Holdings Vice President, Brian Lo said: “For offering services in rural areas, DTH should be the cost-effective solution, as there is no need to build a new network. Installing a small dish at home can let a viewer watch tens of TV channels.”

The cost per subscriber of delivering DTH services, at about US$200, is as much as 33 percent of the cost of each cable subscriber, which can rise to between US$500 and US$700, including network investment and set-top boxes. Sinosat 2 will carry 47 national television and radio channels on about 30 percent of its capacity. The rest will carry entertainment and cultural channels.