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China ready to open TV to News, AOL

By CNN's Alex Frew McMillan

HONG KONG, China -- As talks continue between two of the world's largest media companies and Beijing, China has said it is ready to open up its television market.

Xu Guangchun, the Chinese minister who oversees radio, film and television, told the Financial Times he intends to let media giants NewsCorp. and AOL Time Warner get access to cable viewers in southern China.

In return Beijing says it wants state-sponsored China Central Television channel to be broadly distributed in the United States.

Both AOL and News Corp. have been eyeing China's television market eagerly, but have not commented specifically on the report.

News Corp. has been negotiating access for its Star TV network in Guangdong province while AOL has been trying to arrange broader distribution for its Chinese-language China Entertainment Television.

Broadcasting by both companies "in a restricted area in Guangdong province would be fine," Xu said.

Guangdong, which neighbors Hong Kong, is a thriving business and industrial province.

China looks to broaden reach

Xu said whether the companies would help push the CCTV station is the only outstanding issue for them to get greater play in China.

China launched an international, English-language channel in 2000 that it is keen to see get greater play around the world. AOL and News Corp. could distribute it through their cable and satellite operations.

AOL is the parent of CNN, which is shown in some hotel rooms in China. It would not be affected by the deal.

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