Sky News Australia, China's CCTV Ink Live News Agreement

The deal expands on English-language program swaps.

SYDNEY -- China Central Television (CCTV) and Australian 24-hour, pay-TV news service Sky News Australia have expanded their relationship with the inking of an agreement for news programming exchange and co-productions, in Beijing on Wednesday.

The new agreement will see the launch of major live breaking news between the two broadcasters covering general news as well as business and trade news, the pair said in a statement.

The deal means that for the first time, Australian major news events will be seen live in China and major Chinese news events seen live on Australia’s news channel.

The agreement will allow CCTV to provide its viewers with live pictures of events happening in Australia, including state visits by Chinese leaders and other material with a China angle. However, the agreement will have no effect on Chinese state control of news broadcasts.

Sky News Australia, jointly owned by Australia’s Nine and Seven TV networks and BSkyB, have an existing reciprocal programming deal that saw the launch of CCTV’s English-language Dialogue program carried by Sky News here.

The deal comes as the Australian government is in the process of taking tenders to run pan-Asian satellite broadcaster, the Australia Network with the successful renderer expected to be announced next month.

Both Sky and incumbent, the Australian Broadcasting Corp., are submitting bids.

A Sky News spokesman today said they could not comment on the CCTV deal due to the Australia Network tender.

In late June the government delayed awarding the Australia Network contract for six months.

It said that “tenderers have been asked to submit amended bids to specifically address how their operation of the Australia Network service would meet Australia’s national interests in the light of the increasing influence of key emerging markets on the global economy, significant political transformation occurring across the Middle East and North Africa, and the need identified during recent consular crises for strengthened associated information services through a range of sources."

Commentary in local papers on Thursday suggested today that the new deal with CCTV puts Sky in the box seat to win the $223 million, 10-year contract.

The ABC and Sky also both have reciprocal programming agreements with the Shanghai Media Group, while the ABC has had a longstanding broad relationship with CCTV, and last year signed a cooperative agreement with Chongqing Television and Radio Group.