HONG KONG - NewsCorp plans to sell more than half its shares in Phoenix Satellite Television, its Hong Kong-based Chinese television joint venture.

The move to slash his current 38% stake will reduce Rupert Murdoch's influence in China's tightly leashed media market. Insiders say that just under 20% of the company will be sold to Beijing-based China Mobile, the state-controlled telco.

There is speculation that Phoenix has not proved the springboard into China's latterday Klondyke that Murdoch had hoped. Over HK$1 billion ($128.8m; €100.7m; £69.3m) is expected to change hands.

Liu Changle, Phoenix's founder and chairman, who along with Murdoch holds 38%, is now set to become the company's largest investor. China Mobile will be the second largest with NewsCorp a close third.

Observers believe that letting the comrades in on the deal could inject a little more spring into Murdoch's Chinese pogo-stick.