China enters 2012 with new 3-D free-to-air TV channel

State-run China Central Television and a group of Chinese broadcasters launched a trial of 3-D television Jan. 1 in preparation for the official kick-off Jan. 23 of the new free-to-air service.

The broadcasting partners, which include Beijing Television, Tianjing Broadcasting TV, Jiangsu TV, Shenzhen TV and the Shanghai Media Group, will offer a 3-D lineup of programming during the trial for 13.5 hours a day, which consists of 4.5-hour loops of 3-D programming that will be repeated, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Programming will include live events, including the 2012 London Olympics and CCTV's coverage of the nation's Spring Festival, as well as sports, dramas, documentaries, animation and other entertainment. The 3-D service initially will be offered to viewers for free.

According to media reports, the partners in the 3-D venture are each setting up 3-D production units to create programming for the new service.

Cai Fuchao, who heads up China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying, "The launch of the 3-D trial channel is a significant step in the development of China's television."

According to media reports, the state broadcast regulator speculated that the 3-D service could help to generate significant revenue if a portion of the nation's 500 million TV sets were replaced with 3-D models.

Similar 3-D services are on the air in Japan, South Korea and India. In the United States, 3-D channels are available from pay TV providers.