China Electronic Information Industry Group (CEC), a state-run software and electronics giant, has invested 300 million yuan for a 45 per cent stake in a unit of Chongqing Broadcast and Television Group (CBTG) to speed up the digitisation of its cable pay-television network. CEC, also the parent company of Hong Kong-listed China Electronics Corp Holdings, said yesterday that its investment in Chongqing Broadcast and Television Network Transmission Co had made CEC its second-largest shareholder. CBTG will remain the largest stakeholder, with at least 50 per cent of the joint venture, which will now be charged with speeding up the upgrading of the analogue cable-television network to digital. CBTG's existing 4.2 million cable-television subscribers will be transferred to the joint venture, which aims to complete the basic coverage of digital television in major cities by 2007, and extending it to 40 counties by 2010. But so far, CBTG's digitisation initiative has made little progress, having upgraded only 6,000 subscribers - less than 1 per cent of its total customer base. Huang Qifan, executive vice-mayor of the Chongqing municipal government, said more than one billion yuan would be spent over the next few years to upgrade the digital television network and the associated information network. Ms Huang said that by 2007 digital television subscribers in Chongqing were expected to number 500,000 households. In March, CEC invested 450 million yuan in China Cable TV Network (CCN), a company whose assets include 40,000km of backbone fibre-optic cable that connects all the provincial cable-television stations on the mainland. Through CCN, CEC recently agreed to help the Hainan government to develop the province's cable-television network. Meanwhile, CEC has also signed a deal with the Henan provincial broadcasting authority to digitise its cable TV network. Local media reported recently that CEC is aiming to reform cable-television networks in five or six provinces in the next two years. It is understood that CCN will eventually link up these provincial cable networks through its fibre-optic backbone and carry content from China Central Television - which owns 53 per cent of CCN - on to the various digitised provincial cable-television networks.