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Huge Potential in Broadcasting Market
China's television broadcasting market will become another major growth engine, following in the footsteps of the telecom sector, industry experts said at a forum held on Wednesday.

At the forum, held ahead of today's Beijing International Radio, TV and Film Equipment Exhibition, attendees were shown a market that is rich in potential but slightly tapped.

Today's TV programmes are far from satisfying demand, and the gap means big business opportunities, said Zhang Haitao, vice-director-general of the State Administration of Film, Radio and Television (SAFRT), the regulator of the broadcasting industry.

Chinese people can now access 1,047 different TV channels for information and entertainment, Zhang said.

On average, most families receive over 40 different TV channels at home. But these channels are more or less the same as they all target the mass market.

Most of the channels are similar to each other in progamme arrangement and content. The shortage of distinguishing characteristics drive many people away from their TV sets, Zhang said.

To cater to diversified tastes, more programmes that focus on specific fields should be produced, he said.

A good example is the popularity of programmes from The Discovery Channel of the United States, which shows scientific documentaries.

Personalized TV programmes, like video-on-demand and interactive TV that allow people to decide what to watch, have also received a warm market response in trial operations in some cities, Zhang said.

China's TV penetration rate is 94 per cent with 100 million cable-TV subscribers. This represents a viewing population of over 300 million, making China the world's biggest cable-TV market, according to statistics from SAFRT.

Domestic media companies should grasp the opportunity quickly, before the huge market is explored by foreign media giants, said Hu Zhengrong, a professor at Beijing Broadcasting Institute.

Hu said many people are willing to pay for TV programmes they like, but right now their money has nowhere to go.

(China Daily August 23, 2002)

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