AUSTRALIAN media mogul Kerry Packer is understood to be on the verge of breaking into the Chinese television market with a deal to sell programmes to the state-run national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) in a move which would put him head-to-head with arch-rival Rupert Murdoch. Mr Packer and his son James arrive in Beijing today for a round of talks with officials of CCTV and the ministries which oversee the media and broadcasting. They also will meet Vice-Premier Li Lanqing. The visit comes just days after CCTV confirmed it was negotiating programme exchanges with Mr Murdoch's STAR TV operation, including negotiations to broadcast more STAR programming in China. STAR's progress in China has been stymied to date by the refusal of Beijing authorities to allow individuals to buy satellite dishes after Mr Murdoch said the telecommunications revolution posed a threat to totalitarian regimes. CCTV is believed to be particularly interested in the sports and lifestyle programmes, such as Getaway and Burke's Backyard, produced by Mr Packer's Channel Nine network. Over the past few years Mr Packer has bought the Australian and Chinese broadcast rights for a range of sporting events and it is understood that Tony Greig, the former cricketer and a long-time business partner, went to China recently to prepare for his visit. A Sydney-based media analyst said yesterday that getting into the Chinese market, potentially the world's biggest television market, would make a great deal of sense for Mr Packer because the type of programming he has would fit well in that market. He said: 'The programming that really works in Asian markets is apolitical and acultural and that really means sport and lifestyle programmes. 'Programming is at a premium in China and it would be a good move. But I don't know how much money they'll be able to make.' CCTV and mainland broadcasters have signed up cable subscribers at a rapid rate over the past few months, with the result that China now has about 30 million subscribers, of whom a third pay fees to CCTV. The remainder subscribe to regional stations including operators in Beijing and Shanghai.