Dual regulators lead to unclear markets as firms wait for the situation to evolve Regulatory uncertainty in the mainland pay television industry will act as an obstacle to attracting investment from local and foreign media firms, according to a report released by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (Casbaa) yesterday. The report referred to the mainland's government's recent tightening of restrictions on licensed foreign satellite broadcasters and the stopping of new licences for landing rights to foreign-owned television channels. News Corp has already expressed concern over the regulatory hurdles in the mainland market. 'We expect the regulatory framework in the pay-television market will evolve over time to maximise investment and stimulate growth in business,' said John Medeiros, Casbaa's vice-president for government relations and regulatory affairs. The mainland pay-television market has split into two categories recently - cable television and internet-based television. Until 2002, more than 105 million homes had cable through the analogue system with users paying to receive their signals from terrestrial television stations. However, three years ago, the State Administration of Radio, Film & Television (Sarft) encouraged cable operators to switch to digital technology and start paying for programming from local media companies. The latest figures show there are more than 600,000 subscribers to the fee-paying digital service. However, the rise of internet protocol television (IPTV) services provided by telecommunications operators China Telecom and China Netcom will increase competition and the uncertainty. 'The regulatory environment in China's pay-television market is unclear as there are two systems in competition,' said Mr Medeiros, pointing out that cable television comes under Sarft's jurisdiction while the Ministry of Information Industry, the telecommunications regulator, is responsible for IPTV.