China's first 3-D television channel started broadcasting yesterday, despite the vast majority of mainland television sets being unable to display 3-D images.
Cai Fuchao, director of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, said the nationwide launch marked an important step forward in the development of China's broadcasting industry.
The three-dimensional viewing experience would not only prove enormously entertaining to viewers but would create new industries through the need for new hardware and content, he predicted.
Most television sets on the mainland, thought to number about 500 million, cannot display 3-D images, and many still use analogue cathode-ray tube (CRT) technology.
Manufacturers will soon have a market worth more than 100 billion yuan (HK$122 billion) when viewers decide to replace their olds sets, Cai said.
The 3-D channel also offered mainland companies a platform to experiment with the latest imaging technology and to hone their competitiveness in the growing global 3-D market, Cai added.
'This is an historic event in Chinese television broadcast history,' he said. 'It signifies that the Chinese television industry has closely followed international trends and has arrived at a new era of development.'
Content is the biggest challenge for 3-D operators in other countries, and the Chinese channel, run by the government, has marshalled resources.
While the powerful China Central Television (CCTV) is to take the lead, municipal and provincial channels in Beijing, Tianjin , Shanghai, Jiangsu province and Shenzhen will also provide a range of original content from documentaries to sports and cartoons, Cai said.
While the channel is free, users must have a high-definition cable service, available mostly only in cities, as well as a 3-D-capable television set to view the content.
Starting at 10.30am, yesterday's programme included a documentary about the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010, a tourism show about Barcelona, Peking Opera, a soccer match between South Korea and Argentina from the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, and a cartoon for children.
In the coming days there will be fitness shows, action films, comedies and even a somewhat controversial season of bull fighting in order to cater to different audiences, according to the channel's website, 3d.tv.cn
In July, it will broadcast the Olympic Games live from London.