BEIJING (AdAgeChina.com) -- Australia's Sky News has signed a landmark reciprocal programming agreement with China Central Television (CCTV), according to a report on CCTV.com
In a breakthrough for Australia-China relations, Sky News has secured an agreement for its programming to be broadcast in China, while English-language programming from China's national broadcaster will air in Australia on a regular basis for the first time.
The deal gives a western news organization unusual access to China, which is largely closed to foreign broadcasters.
It's also a valuable opportunity for China's government, which is turning to "soft power" to improve the country's global image. Chinese leaders set aside $6.6 billion last year to expand the international presence of CCTV and other state-controlled media companies such as news agency Xinhua, the People's Daily and Shanghai Media Group, a news and entertainment conglomerate.
CCTV will have regular access to programming and journalists at both the Sky News and Sky News Business Channels through a daily exchange of news reports.
Sky News is broadcast by Australian News Channel, which is owned by British Sky Broadcasting, which is partly owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., as well as Seven Media Group and PBL Media.
The relationship with CCTV starts with a weekly broadcast of the English-language CCTV program "Dialogue" on A-PAC, Australia's public affairs channel.
Sky News says its Political Editor David Speers will travel to China next month to host special broadcasts of a "China Agenda" from the World Expo opening in Shanghai on May 1, 2010.
Australian trade officials and business leaders plan a major presence at the World Expo to promote Australia's trade interests in China.
"This could be an indicator of a low key, and slight, loosening of some of the controls over foreign news content entering the country. The reciprocal arrangement apparently matches previous agreements," said Simon Twiston-Davies, CEO of the Hong Kong-based Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association Of Asia.
"But there has been a distinct slowdown in approvals for such agreements, so this is good news and a feather in the cap of Sky News."
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