China: Beijing TV to Start HD this Month

BTV (Beijing TV Station) will become one of the first broadcasters inside mainland China to air HD programs terrestrially, starting on Monday, Sept. 28.

BTV's goal is to provide at least HD over-the-air channels by late 2012 for the vast Beijing market — and "gradually finishing the reform of HD interactive cable TV networks as well as promoting HD interactive set-top boxes at the same time," according to Xinhua News Agency.

Xinhua said BTV officials are expecting to sign on about 300,000 subscribers in its coverage area's "key urban demonstrative sub-districts" soon, and to boost its HD sub list to more than 2.6 million Chinese dwellings within three years.

Right now about 240,000 subscribers are "capable of receiving" digital HD signals in the greater Beijing region, said the news agency. The world's most populous nation, China is believed to have at least 1.3 billion citizens.

An official with Beijing's Municipal Commission of Industry& Information Technology said he expects about a $735 million market for front-end equipment within the next three years.