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Tuesday, 9 January, 2001, 06:20 GMT
China lets in BBC TV
Beijing skyline
BBC TV will soon be broadcast to Beijing again
The BBC's international television channel, BBC World, has been granted an independent licence to broadcast in China for the first time.

Under the deal signed with the China International TV Corporation, the channel will be distributed to upmarket hotels, as well as guest houses and foreign apartments.

The deal is an indication of a major thaw in relations between China and the BBC.

BBC World used to be broadcast to China on the Star TV network, but observers say the Chinese authorities were unhappy with some of the coverage - especially of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations.

The contract was terminated in 1994 by Star TV's owner, Rupert Murdoch.

Rivals ahead

A BBC spokesman said that the move could lead to further deals.

"It's good to be able to regularise our relationship, and if the Chinese authorities are happy with how it works out, we hope it could lead to other things," BBC World sales and distribution director Jeff Hazell said.

Rival channels like CNN and CNBC are already broadcast inside hotels and foreign compounds in China.

Chinese hostility to the BBC in recent years has led to the jamming of radio transmission into the country.

Beijing was said to be upset by coverage of the crackdown in Tiananmen Square in 1989, a documentary on the life of former leader Mao Zedong and reporting on Chinese rule in Tibet.

BBC World is available in 173 million homes in 200 countries and territories worldwide.

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See also:

09 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
China's changing media
17 Nov 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
China's changing face
29 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Asian telecoms giant takes shape
07 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Anger over Murdoch's Tibet comments
28 Oct 99 | World
BBC World: Who wants it?
20 Sep 99 | UK
Job losses at BBC World
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