China approves more foreign TV channels for hotel broadcasts
Friday, August 17th, 2007

China’s broadcasting regulator has increased the number of foreign television channels authorized to offer programnes in some hotels to 34, from 31 at the end of last year. Two of the channels are ESPN and STAR Sports, suggesting an easing of curbs on foreign media ahead of the Olympics next year. In late May, the regulator also offered a Korean TV channel, KBS World, rights to broadcast to hotels of three stars or more.

But an official at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television’s general office said today the additions don’t represent a change to a policy set in 2005, when Beijing said it would stop granting such licences to foreign TV channels and tighten control over existing foreign channels. The official declined to be named.

ESPN and STAR Sports, both channels offered by News Corporation unit Star Group Ltd, were removed from the list of approved channels earlier this year. At the time, the regulator added two other channels - EAST TV and Cuba Vision International - but kept the total number of approved channels unchanged at 31. The regulator said in a statement posted on its Web site Thursday it has authorized ESPN and STAR Sports to resume broadcasts.

The official declined to explain the move, but said KBS World had applied for such broadcast rights before the 2005 policy was introduced. In addition to ESPN and STAR Sports, News Corporation has four other channels approved for broadcast to hotels in China.

(Source: MarketWatch)