China Central TV comes to Freeview
It's broadcast, but not as you know it
China Central Television is coming to Freeview HD, but not as a broadcast television channel. It will have its own channel number, but it won't be broadcast in the UK or subject to UK broadcast rules.
CCTV is taking advantage of the Vision IPTV platform, which started supplying internet video streams to UK Freeview HD boxes in the last couple of weeks. Switch to channel 112 on a Freeview TV box and you'll find yourself watching an internet stream (or, perhaps, an error message) when China Central TV makes its appearance over the next months.
Sports Tonight, currently available on channel 112, gets a number to itself. CCTV will have to share its channel number between the three CCTV channels it intends to provide to UK viewers – with an MHEG interface allowing users to select which propaganda stream they'd prefer to view.
Not that CCTV is all propaganda, but it does have a tendency to toe the government line, and recent attacks by one of the anchors on the country's dominant search engine, Baidu, have been attributed (by local media) to the government's desire to promote its very own alternative.
Countries are increasingly looking to television to project their point of view on international issues, but broadcasting nationally is very expensive. Vision IPTV presents a way to achieve the penetration of broadcast without the expense, but is dependent on Freeview HD boxes properly conforming to the standard – as well as being connected to the internet. What proportion of boxes that covers we don't know, and we'd be very interested to hear if you are finding the transition to IPTV as smooth as it should be, or if most of you are being greeted by the unobtainable error message when switching to channel 112. ®