Beijing's latest crackdown on foreign satellite transmissions has been greeted with a sense of deja vu among many in the broadcasting industry. It all started little more than a week ago - and with the 10th anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen massacre approaching - when the Beijing Daily printed a State Council circular banning the unauthorised sale or use of satellite receiving equipment and threatening punishment. A few days later, state television flashed pictures of policemen dismantling and carting away satellite dishes and decoders. Foreign broadcasters, eyeing the mainland's booming television market, were reportedly nervous amid predictions of dire implications for companies like Star TV, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, and its rivals. But the scenario is more or less a repeat of what happened in April 1994 when the ban stipulated by State Council No 129 circular - the same one the newspaper recently cited - first came into effect. And whether Beijing will succeed this time after almost six years of futile efforts remains unclear. So for now at least, the big foreign broadcasters are largely staying calm. 'Of course, we are concerned, but we have seen it before,' one industry executive said over the weekend. 'This [crackdown] happens almost every year, usually in the run-up to the sensitive June 4 anniversary, which draws massive international media attention to Beijing. 'But this year is more politically sensitive,' he said. The executive was referring to the fact Beijing is also preparing a lavish ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic, amid mounting social discontent over corruption and unemployment. In theory, only hotels and residential blocks catering for foreigners, as well as government-sanctioned companies, are allowed to buy satellite dishes. But foreign programming including news, films and talk shows is streaming into millions of households through cable operators across the country, many of it without permission. Many more homes have their own satellite dishes perched on rooftops. Hong Kong-based Phoenix, a Chinese language joint venture between News Corp and two mainland companies, as well as Star TV, ESPN and China Entertainment Television (CETV), have proved popular with mainland viewers and attracted an increasing number of mainland advertisers. Phoenix has gained formal approval to be carried by cable operators in Guangdong only. Industry executives believe if June 4 is the main reason behind the crackdown, the restrictions will be over in several months, judging from past experience. In addition, some executives believe the latest campaign is targeted mainly at the illegal pay-per-view business flourishing in coastal areas such as Guangdong, bordering Hong Kong and Fujian, across the straits from Taiwan. 'The problem is that Taiwan businessmen have sold many programmes to the mainland and some of them are pornographic,' said Zhang Tong, an official with News Corp's Beijing representative office. Mr Zhang said many mainland residents had bought illegal decoders. 'I don't think this [crackdown] will have much impact on our business. We are always trying to develop our business fully in accordance with laws and regulations on the mainland,' Mr Zhang said. Some reports have suggested the latest crackdown is aimed in particular at three-year-old Phoenix, which has been marketing aggressively on the mainland. Its popularity has soared in the past year or so, particularly after Premier Zhu Rongji said he was a fan of Phoenix's Taiwan-born star news anchor Wu Xiaoli at his inaugural press conference televised nationwide early last year. Phoenix provides a range of news and current affairs programmes which could be viewed as destabilising during such a sensitive period. Sources at Phoenix said they could not think of any programmes which might have offended Beijing. They admitted, however, the channel had carried reports of President Jiang Zemin's tour of Switzerland where he was harassed by protesters. Phoenix claims its programmes are watched by 40 million viewers across the country. A prolonged crackdown would dampen its expansion plans, which include adding more channels this year. But some industry executives believe even if the government has the will, it is logistically difficult to effectively enforce the ban, as it would take a large force of inspectors to check and dismantle dishes. By the end of 1997, the mainland had 756 cable stations with 70 million customers, according to official statistics. Many more are operating without official licences. In addition, households in many parts of Guangdong can watch Hong Kong television direct due to its close proximity. Officials at the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television agree. 'We have been carrying out this ban ever since ,' one official said. 'There are too many of them [cable operators] for us to check regularly. 'For such stations, we depend upon people's reports. 'When we are informed about such activities, we will deal with them.'