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China: Launch of HD Channel in January

Chinese Central Television will launch the Asian country's first HD channel on New Year's Day, according to an official government announcement this week. The launch was somewhat anticipated, following a host of other government news advisories in recent months.

The pay channel will broadcast 18 hours a day and, similar in purpose to HD rollouts in Europe in early 2006, the Chinese service will carry the World Cup in Berlin this summer, according to the official news agency of China, Xinhua.

The government plans to begin shifting all its broadcasting to digital in 2008 and cease analog transmission entirely by 2015. China hosts the 2008 summer Olympics and plans to broadcast the entire series of events in HD throughout its nation of 1.3 billion.

China Central Television has been testing the new HD channel since September in Hangzhou, southwest of Shanghai, in a market of more than six million.