AOL Time Warner seals landmark cable deal in China

In what the company is calling a landmark deal, AOL Time Warner Inc. (AOLTW) said Monday that it has gained the rights to broadcast its 24-hour Mandarin-language information and entertainment channel in the southern region of China, marking the first time a foreign institution has been allowed to carry cable TV in mainland China.

In exchange, AOLTW has agreed to broadcast China Central Television's (CCT) English-language news and information channel, CCTV-9, in the U.S. It will also be the first time that one of China's national television networks is carried on a 24-hour basis in the U.S.

Under the deal, AOLTW's CETV network will be broadcast in China via Guangdong Cable TV Networks Co., Ltd. (GCTV) beginning in January. AOLTW bought CETV in June of last year and then re-launched it February 2001 to reflect the viewing tastes of modern Chinese audiences, the company said. CETV currently reaches 80 million Asian households through AsiaSat 3S. The channel offers original Chinese coproductions, as well as selected programming from AOLTW.

CCTV-9 will be will be carried on select Time Warner Cable systems in the U.S., although the company did not detail which regions would be able to receive the Chinese network.

AOLTW's Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific unit sealed the agreement with CCTV, its commercial branch China International Television Corp., GCTV, and China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television in Beijing earlier Monday.

The carriage agreement was reached following a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in Shanghai.

The deal establishes AOLTW's growing relationship with China and will allow the company to work with Chinese partners to create products and services for the market, AOLTW Chief Executive Officer Gerald Levin said in a statement.

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