10 Aug 2009 11:16

MIIT, SARFT discussing IPTV policy

Beijing. August 10. INTERFAX-CHINA - China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) are discussing a policy to allow mutual exchange between telecom operators and broadcasters to facilitate the development of Internet Protocol television (IPTV), a MIIT official told Interfax on Aug. 7.

The proposed policy will allow broadcasters and telecom operators to mutually exchange production content and network coverage, which was previously prohibited under MIIT and SARFT regulations.

Specifically, the policy will allow broadcasters to provide broadband Internet services to the public, and telecom operators to access broadcasters' programs to provide content on their wireless networks. An expert panel of MIIT and SARFT officials are currently negotiating policy parameters, the unnamed official said.

The telecommunications and broadcasting industries currently function independently of each other. Broadcast operators are the exclusive holders of IPTV licenses, while telecom operators are unable to obtain the necessary licenses to operate IPTV legally.

As IPTV is an interactive video broadcast service that requires huge bandwidth to operate efficiently, broadcasters, which are in possession of content and programs but lack network coverage, have to cooperate with telecom operators as they ar unable to shoulder the huge investment in network infrastructure. This has led to the slow development of the IPTV sector, which the policy will address, according to the official.

Interfax reported on Aug. 6 that China Telecom initiated an IPTV set-top box tender and will select five suppliers out of 16 bidders.

"The China Telecom tender is a result of the proposed policy and there have been a number of talks between local broadcasters and telecom operators in light of the possibilities that may arise," the official added.