News Corp yesterday took a further step towards penetrating the mainland market after its Star Group signed a strategic alliance with Hunan Broadcasting Group. The agreement represents a framework for joint financing and co-production of programmes for the mainland market. 'It is basically a framework for what we will do later,' one Star official in Hong Kong said. 'It is not a joint venture and does not involve financial commitments. It is not detailed.' An official of News Corp's Beijing office described the signing as 'very symbolic and showing our willingness to co-operate. It is a gesture'. She said that the two sides had not decided on the details of the co-operation. She said that Star had picked Hunan Broadcasting because it was one of the most active television stations in China, with eight channels, including one satellite channel with national coverage. James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of Star Group, said that the agreement further broadened and deepened the company's development in China. Wei Wenbin, chairman of Hunan Broadcasting and also director-general of Hunan Radio, Film and Television Administration, said: 'To team up with Star is our strategic step to strengthen our co-operation with the outside world.' According to Chinese newspapers, the advertising market in the mainland was worth 86.1 billion yuan (about HK$81.58 billion) last year, the largest in Asia, with television stations attracting the biggest portion of that amount.