Rupert Murdoch's Star TV is expected to announce later this week it has secured rights to a mainland cable television channel. His son, Star TV chairman and chief executive James Murdoch, is expected to unveil details of the deal in Beijing tomorrow. It is understood Star TV will be granted official approval for an entertainment channel delivered by local cable TV systems in Guangdong, China's richest province. Yesterday a Star TV official refused to comment on the issue. The Asian broadcasting unit of Rupert Murdoch's Australia-based News Corp already has a mainland foothold with five free-to-air channels beaming signals to selected viewers who include those staying in plush hotels or living in foreign residential compounds. The channels are Channel V, Star Sports, National Geographic, ESPN and Star Movies. Each week about 50 hours of programming are distributed to mainland TV stations and cable TV operators in the form of syndicated programme blocks. The latest deal indicates the growing foreign participation in the mainland's television sector. In October, Growth Enterprise Market-listed Phoenix Satellite Broadcasts, in which Star TV holds 37.6 per cent, announced it had been given approval by the broadcasting regulator - the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television - to broadcast in Guangdong. Four days later, United States media giant AOL Time Warner announced it had a mainland permit to broadcast its flagship Chinese channel, China Entertainment Television. As part of the agreement, the US broadcaster has undertaken to air the state-run China Central Television channel on its cable platform in New York, Los Angeles and Houston. Star TV will become the third foreign firm to be granted cable carriage rights - the right to provide its TV services to individual homes by cable. However, industry experts said although authorities were giving the broadcasters a legitimate role, it would take time for them to negotiate commercial arrangements with the mainland's cable network operators. Investment banker Peter Schloss said: 'Landing rights are the first important step in a multi-step process to enter the cable TV market.' He indicated that it would be difficult for foreign broadcasters to reach commercial agreements with local operators. They were bound to demand the lion's share of any advertising revenues generated. Also, the bulk of Guangdong's audience - up to 60 per cent - preferred to watch the Cantonese programmes generated by Hong Kong's Television Broadcasts and Asia Television. These signals are picked up illegally by mainland cable TV operators in the Pearl River Delta, who then block out the Hong Kong generated commercials and replace them with their own advertisements. Meanwhile, a consolidated state-run television company in Guangdong will make its formal debut on Thursday. The new company, Guangdong Nan Fong TV Station, has been formed through a merger of Guangdong Television and Guangdong Cable TV. Foreign broadcasters expect the combined broadcaster to be more flexible but aggressive in its commercial negotiations.