China's Next 'Great Leap Forward': Digital TV

18 August 2004

The politics may have softened in the People's Republic since the days of Mao Tse-tung, and its commercial savvy sharpened. But one thing remains unchanged.

China's determination to achieve its goals fast and on a massive scale. In this case the switch to digital television.

Says Wang Xiaojie, top mandarin for dTV at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television: "We want to be a digital society. We want to phase out all analogue and convert to digital by 2015. We are going to have to fund some of the technology."

The funding will come in the shape of low-interest loans to Chinese cable companies. Currently, there are just 280,000 Chinese homes able to receive digital broadcasts; but by 2008, the government has decreed, there will be one hundred million such households.

But by Chinese standards, that's just peanuts. Beijing's aim is to have all 380 million Chinese homes connected to digital technology by 2015. An aim which delights the likes of News Corporation, whose minority-owned Star China stands to make a killing from the project.

Star president Jamie Davis oozed altruism when commenting on the news: "Television has the potential to create jobs, wealth, tax revenue, and a better lifestyle for people here," he said.

To hit the 2008 mid-term target, the Chinese will spend at least $57 billion (€46.22bn; £30.99bn) on digiboxes. "Subsidising digital is a good investment for the state," opined Davis as he licked his lips.

Data sourced from: Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff