Service providers cut out as homegrown CMMB technology will allow direct content access to users Mainland television broadcasters and content providers such as Shanghai Media Group were given a boost last week when the government announced its choice of a standard for sending television signals to mobile phones and other portable multimedia devices The State Administration of Radio Film and Television (Sarft) said it chose the mainland-developed CMMB, which will allow state-owned television stations to broadcast directly to mobile phones, cutting out mobile service providers. Other candidates included Europe-based Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld, South Korea's Digital Multimedia Broadcasting and US chipmaker Qualcomm's MediaFlo technologies. The move reflects government efforts to control core technologies by using domestic rather than international standards. China Mobile, China Telecom and other telecommunications operators are awaiting a decision on the award of third-generation mobile-phone licences which will oblige a carrier to deploy an untested homegrown standard. Mobile television services based on CMMB technology are expected to start in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, allowing users nationwide to watch programmes on digital devices that carry the necessary digital signal receiver. Mobile television service providers such as Shanghai Media will in theory be able to bypass mobile operators when offering the service. Shanghai Media's Oriental Pearl Group started offering a digital mobile multimedia service in the city using the South Korean DMB standard in May. The company partners China Mobile's Shanghai operation to reach mobile-phone customers and for billing. Mobile television service providers that benefit from the reach of China Mobile and China Unicom to attract subscribers also have to share revenue. In Guangdong province, a trial service charges users 30 yuan for 10 channels such as China Central Television Channel One. 'The new mobile television licence may trigger competition between mobile operators and broadcasters in the future but it will depend on the official direction,' a spokesman for one mobile television licensee said. Broadcasters can promote services on their own, he said. In China, broadcasters such as China Central Television, Shanghai Media, Guangdong-based Southern Media Group and radio broadcaster China Radio International, all have the licences to provide new media services such as mobile television. Last week, Sarft said the CMMB standard will serve all digital broadcasting services that will be delivered through mobiles phones and other portable multimedia devices such as MPEG 4 players. CMMB was developed by the administration and its related academic institute.