China expects to build up a digital television (DTV) broadcasting system by the year 2010 to replace the current analogue broadcasting system.
According to a long-term plan made by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), analogue broadcasting will be halted by 2015, and eight satellite TV channels will produce and transmit DTV programmes by 2005.
It means that Chinese audiences can enjoy much clearer television programmes in the near future as long as they add a small facility to receive digital coding.
Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen of South China's Guangdong Province currently have set up regional DTV networks as part of a trial.
Cable TV deliverers in Southwest China's Sichuan Province have also experimented to provide interactive TV programmes for their 7 million subscribers with support from international DTV facility manufacturers.
However, the crucial problem for DTV's development in China now is the formulation of DTV transmission standards.
DTV - including High Definition Television (HDTV) and Standard Definition Television (SDTV) - means the producing, distributing, transmitting and receiving of television programmes should all use digital coding and transmission technology.
The United States, Japan and Europe have all publicized their own DTV transmission standards and are promoting them to other countries.
China gathered a group of experts in 1999 and organized a special committee to draw up its own DTV broadcasting standards.
"It is very important to have our own standards," said a researcher at Tsinghua University who declined to be named. "Otherwise, just like the cases of DVD (digital versatile discs) and CDMA (code-division multiple-access) technology, our manufacturers will have to pay a lot of money for the patent."
Four domestic research institutions, including Tsinghua University and Shanghai Jiaotong University, in October submitted five HDTV schemes transmission standards, which is compatible with SDTV transmission standards.
The standard-making committee, having already put these schemes to the test, will make the final decision on which scheme to choose by next year, according to the SARFT timetable.
Experts predict that cable television will be the first section where DTV technology is widely utilized. In fact, the sports channel of China Central Television has used DTV technology to interactively broadcast the Ninth National Games held in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province last year.
(China Daily February 21, 2002)