China On Track for OTA HD by 2008

According to China's official news agency, the nation of 1.3 billion people is on track to launch over-the-air (OTA) digital broadcasts by 2008, which is, not coincidentally, the year of the summer Olympics in Beijing. The Chinese have been promising to get HD up and running (by OTA, cable and satellite) throughout much of China by the Olympics, set for Aug. 8-24, 2008.

The 2008 date was more heavily publicized this month when it was contained in a national five-year timeline on cultural development for the country, and prominently mentioned last week by Xinhua News Agency. The cultural "guideline" for 2006-2010 also calls for China to replace its analog cable system with DTV in its eastern- and central-region cities, and most Western towns by 2010.

China plans to turn on its mandatory terrestrial DTV broadcast standard on Aug. 1, 2007. The number of households with digital broadcasting facilities rose from one million in 2004 to 4.13 million in 2005, according to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. Most Chinese households, especially in rural areas, will not be able to purchase DTV or HD-quality sets for several years beyond 2008.