Australian broadcaster ABC wins landmark access to China

SYDNEY (AFP) - The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) announced on Thursday a deal to make its content more available in China, in what is believed to be the most extensive access granted to any western broadcaster.

Under the arrangement, ABC International will establish an online portal in China through which a range of ABC and other Australian media content can be offered to Chinese media partners.

The deal with Shanghai Media Group also allows the ABC to establish a base in Shanghai with official approval to represent and sell media content across China and enter into international co-productions.

"This historic agreement opens up a whole new world of television and online cooperation between Australia and China," ABC managing director Mark Scott said in a statement. "It provides a truly unique window for all Australian media to build a friendly and mutually cooperative relationship with China."

The ABC said the deal, struck on the back of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's trade mission to China last week, was backed by the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film and TV.

The Australian Financial Review said the BBC World Service and CNN International were the only western broadcasters with landing rights in China, but their audiences were limited to diplomatic compounds and some international hotels.

BBC and CNN programming can also be accessed by Chinese citizens with satellite dishes and is occasionally blocked when it deals with issues, such as Communist Party politics, considered sensitive by authorities.

The ABC portal will allow anyone in China access to content from the broadcaster which includes children's programmes such as Bananas In Pyjamas and current affairs shows including Q&A.

"This agreement will enable us to put the full range of Australia Network programming and content from other Australian media into China and for China to connect more closely with our media," said ABC International chief executive Lynley Marshall.

"Most importantly, the agreement will provide opportunities for promotion of Australian business, tourism, entertainment, culture and education."

The ABC said the detailed agreement formalising the arrangement was set to be signed in Shanghai on May 4.

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