National broadcasting 5G giant ready to emerge

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A national unified broadcasting and cable TV network joint-stock company in China, which is set to offer 5G wireless, broadband and paid TV services as well as mobile communication services, is currently taking shape.

The name of the company, which translates to China Broadcasting and Cable TV Network Co., Ltd., has been approved by the State Administration for Market Regulation, according to an announcement released on Aug. 4, 2020. This move represents substantial progress toward the integration and upgrading of China’s cable television networks.

The new company now has 47 shareholders with its parent China Broadcasting Network (CBN) holding a 51% stake with an investment of 51.61 billion yuan, as declared in announcements issued on Aug. 26 by some of its publicly listed investors.

E-commerce giant Alibaba and China’s largest utility company State Grid, have each committed 10 billion yuan for a 9.88% stake, making them the second largest shareholders. Other investors include provincial-level broadcasting and cable TV companies.

With its registered capital set at 101.2 billion yuan, the joint-stock company will be China’s fourth largest operator after China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. 

The formation of the company comes as the traditional cable TV business faces challenges from the internet and streaming TV services, as well as falling subscriber numbers in regional cable networks across the country.

According to a cable TV industry report, in the first quarter of 2020, China had a total of 206 million cable TV users, a drop of 3.1 million. Meanwhile, IPTV subscribers for China’s three carriers rose to 305 million this July according to data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

To accelerate the integration of national cable TV operations and promote the construction of the fifth-generation broadcast network, a teleconference organized by the National Radio and Television Administration on March 2 stressed that the integration work will be undertaken by a joint-stock company controlled by CBN. 

CBN was granted a 5G license by MIIT in June 2019, becoming one of four 5G carriers in China. In May this year, it also forged a partnership with China Mobile to jointly deploy and operate a 700MHz 5G network. 

On Aug. 27, CBN stated on its website that China’s first batch of 5G full-band terminals supporting 700 MHz had been approved with its coordination, which is significant for the acceleration of CBN’s 5G 700MHz network construction.

Communication industry expert Wu Chunyong believes that with the 5G technology and existing advantages in content production, the upcoming joint-stock company could be a competitor to the three major carriers that focus on communication services.

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