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China Plans National Cable-TV Network in Industry Overhaul

China plans to create a single company to operate cable-television networks nationally as part of a drive to integrate the country’s telecommunications, Internet and broadcasting systems, an official said.

“The cable-television network at present is managed locally, and is lacking in organization and scale,” Tao Shiming, an official at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, told an industry conference in Beijing yesterday. A committee set up by the agency will seek approval from the State Council, China’s Cabinet, he said.

Tao said the proposed national operator will allow companies with sufficient scale to join, and accelerate the adoption of digitization technologies. China has more than 170 million cable TV subscribers, more than double the number in the U.S., according to consultancy Media Partners Asia.

“The industry is fragmented compared to the U.S., where several bigger cable operators are dominant,” said Adrian Tong, an analyst at Media Partners Asia in Hong Kong. “It won’t be easy for China to integrate all the smaller players, and the consolidation will take years.”

The national-operator proposal will enable better industry regulation, Tao, a director general at a department under the administration, said in his speech at the industry conference. A transcript of the speech was posted on the organizer’s website.

China has more than 1,000 cable operators, according to Media Partners Asia’s Tong. The nation had 170.5 million cable-TV subscribers at the end of 2009, compared with 66.2 million in the U.S., he said.

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