Movie channel joins Shanghai repertoire

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 January, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 January, 2004, 12:00am

China is progressively developing domestic film channels as a response to the threat of increased foreign competition following the country's accession to the World Trade Organisation.

Shanghai Media & Entertainment Group launched the country's third film channel this week over the city's cable television network.

Its Oriental Movie Channel (OMC) offers six shows a day, including Chinese and foreign titles and television series.

'We will soon boost the number of movies to more than 10 a day,' an OMC spokesman said.

The airing of OMC comes 10 years after state-run Chinese Central Television 6 and follows Western Movie Channel's debut in Shanxi province last month.

Roy Kong, media director at media buyer Starcom Worldwide, said OMC was 'just like a home-grown [Home Box Office]'.

OMC - which has broadcasting permission from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft) - revealed its programming, which includes Wong Kar-wai's In The Mood For Love, Zhang Yimou's Hero, The Matrix and HBO drama series 24.

According to industry sources, OMC plans to spend about 70 million yuan a year on buying content. It is aiming to sell 500 million yuan of advertising slots over the next three years.

A source said: 'The target is not harsh at all. A free around-the-clock movie channel in Shanghai, where the TV advertising market is worth more than two billion yuan a year, should easily attract advertisers.'

OMC will compete for viewers with Shanghai Media Group, the city's near-monopoly television broadcaster. The OMC spokesman said: 'The formation of OMC was fully supported by Sarft, as it serves as a window to our blossoming film industry.'

Foreign film channels such as HBO, Star Movies and Phoenix Movies have been eating into the lucrative advertising pie in China, despite being limited to satellite-connected foreign compounds and selected hotels.

Mr Kong said: 'With the joining of WTO, China needs to build some operations that it can control to compete with multinational players.'