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Cetv Asks China For Fair Play

In an unusual public appeal, Robert Chua, the chairman of satellite service CETV, asked Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji for "equal treatment" for his company's operation in China.

But the appeal may have fallen on deaf ears, for Zhu failed to attend MIP-TV, where Chua went public with his concerns. A market spokesman confirmed that Zhu had been expected to attend.

"There are two Mandarin-language satellite services out of Hong Kong directed at China and Southeast Asia, and CETV's competitor is the only one to be granted landing rights into Guangdong Provincial and City Cable Network," said Chua, referring to the provider for the major market area. "CETV, a wholly Chinese company, was denied rights (to carriage on City Cable Network), while a 45% foreign-owned channel has been an official channel on the cable network in Guangdong since the handover (of Hong Kong by the British to China) in 1997," Chua said.

"I am appealing to the Chinese prime minister to give CETV equal treatment," he added.

"CETV was told it needed a mainland-controlled partner before being granted landing rights," Chua said. CETV then sold a major stake in the company to obtain Chinese partners and faces bankruptcy as a result of its failure to gain a foothold on City Cable Network, he said.

"A fair resolution of this issue will give renewed confidence to overseas Chinese to support the motherland," Chua said.

His appeal followed a news conference at which Yang Weiguang and Ma Uanhe from the newly restructured Chinese state administration of radio, film and television outlined changes that will lead to a convergence of Chinese telcoms, electronics and audiovisual industries.

The plan also calls for increasing Chinese investment in the global entertainment industry.