AOL In Broadcast Deal With China

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AOL Time Warner, which produces TV programs and is one of the biggest U.S. cable TV systems owners, said Monday it has signed a landmark cable television agreement with China's state television network.

AOL's 24-hour Mandarin Chinese channel CETV will be carried on the CCTV's commercial networks in Guangdong, while CCTV's English-language channel CCTV-9 will be available on select Time Warner Cable systems. Broadcasting is set to begin in January 2002.

CETV reaches 80 million households in Asia, while CCTV provides viewers in China and the world with a wide range of news and current affairs programs.

A statement by AOL quoted Xu Guang Chuna, director of China's State Adminstration of Radio, Film and Television as saying "this is the first time for a foreign TV institution to be granted cable TV carriage rights in mainland China."

Xu said the agreement - the first to be signed after the just concluded APEC meeeting in Shanghai - "serves as a starting points towards developing further cooperatin in the future."

Gerald M. Levin, chief executive of AOL, said in a statement that "we are very pleased to have achieved this landmark agreement."

Levin said the agreement was "part of a sustained efforts by our operating divisions to work with Chinese partners in creating products and services for this dynamic marketplace."

On Friday, Chinese authorities granted Hong Kong-based Phoenix television network the right to broadcast to the economically booming Pearl River Delta in the southern province of Guangdong near Hong Kong.

News Corp's Asian subsidiary, STAR, is a major shareholder in Phoenix.

China's communist leaders view television as a vital propaganda tool and tightly control airwaves. Foreign TV channels can be seen in hotels and luxury housing, but government regulations prohibit foreign broadcasters from reaching TV audiences directly.

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