It was a sticky battle between the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft) and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to determine which would oversee the merger and the integration of digital media services. The two agencies had been bickering over the scope of pilot cities and the territory they would cede to each other, domestic media reported. The lucrative internet protocol TV market proved to be the key testing ground. After their plans had been rejected five times in two months, Sarft finally appeared to come out on top, analysts and mainland media concluded. It will construct and manage not only IPTV broadcasting and control rights but also including internet access via cable, China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting, data transmission and the IP telephone businesses on the mainland. It will also collaborate with IPTV companies over fee collection. One analyst said all the political wrangling, however, would not move China forward technologically, at least not in the near future. 'The pilot plan doesn't include any significant new services that cannot be realised today,' said Hu Yanping, general manager of the Data Centre of the China Internet. 'The plan is actually a step backwards for the industry development, as Sarft intends to control the market single-handedly.' As the administrative organ responsible for content and copyright issues, Sarft clings to its tight control over issuing certificates for IPTV, said Hu Xiaoming, standing vice-president of the China Information Industry Association. A Sarft crackdown in April and last month on unauthorised IPTV service operators in Guangdong, Zhejiang and Fujian affected 3 million viewers. Only three companies are authorised by Sarft to have certificates: the Web-based TV broadcaster China Network Television; Wasu Digital TV Media Group in Hangzhou, Zhejiang; and BesTV, a joint venture by the Shanghai Media Group and Tsinghua Tongfang Corp, the Huaxia Times said. All have connections to Sarft, which requires IPTV sets to be certified. Manufacturers have no choice but to work with them if they want to offer IPTV services. 'The core problem was that Sarft wouldn't compromise when facing conflicts of interest,' said Hu Xiaoming. In April, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced a plan to improve the internet bandwidth to 8Mb by the end of next year at a cost of 150 billion yuan (HK$171 billion).