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Illegal satellite TV in China brings CNN to the masses

Owen Fletcher | April 23, 2010
A black market for satellite TV is booming in China as a middle class grows there

But many Chinese buyers are still going for the satellite dish and TV set-top box needed to receive overseas channels, which sell at fairly low prices. One Beijing man charges as little as 1,300 yuan (US$190) for installation and one year of service, he said as he set up the gear in a buyer's apartment.

That service includes a connection to a remote server, which feeds data to the set-top box so it can process the legitimate satellite signals sent out by stations like HBO Asia, the installer said. Buyers can pay extra for gear that receives more channels, ranging from the Philippines versions of Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon to news stations in Hong Kong and Japan.

Some of the channels have Chinese subtitles, and Chinese urbanites who watch Western TV shows online or on bootleg DVD may be familiar with some of the programming. Content from Hong Kong or Taiwan would present no language barrier.

The Beijing man has installed the gear for foreign satellite TV in over 200 homes, working on weekends to avoid conflict with his regular job, he said.

When asked how much money he made from the installations, the man laughed.

"How much do you think I can make charging 1,300 yuan?" he said. "This is mainly just fun."


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