China setting up a super regulator for telecoms, media

Plans for the ‘National One Network’, an umbrella agency to manage the two sectors which is due to be listed in June, have been revealed online

China setting up super regulator for telecoms, media
5G technology is promoted during an expo in Shanghai in December 2018. China is set to create a super regulator to oversee telecommunications, television and other media in coming months. Photo: Imaginechina via AFP

The Chinese Government is fast tracking a 5G rollout nationwide and this network will be integrated into the country’s media system.

An internal document published by DVBCN says the first order of business is to create a new top-tier media and telecommunications regulator and overseer.

‘The One Network’, as it is being called, will have power over all the other networks. This new entity is slated for listing in June 2020 – next month.

In China all media is state-owned or managed, to a degree. Regulatory and propaganda organs manage a noodle soup of outlets on the Internet, TV, and Chinese versions of Twitter.

The mobile sector is also huge. 5G represents an opportunity for these two sectors to come together as one. With companies such as Alibaba joining and Huawei providing equipment the One Network looks like it will become a major player in China and abroad.

This long-planned "National One Network" will be a listed company controlled by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), and the General Administration of China Radio and Television (http://www.nrta.gov.cn/).

Government officials have established a head office and 21 provincial level offices. They expect the new entity to bring "qualitative change" to the whole network integration process.

Besides the traditional business of radio and television, IPTV, OTT TV and other network audiovisual technologies will fall under its remit. The important area of "national information infrastructure" and "public cultural service facilities" will also be incorporated in this process.

The principles of market operation and administrative oversight are expected to be completed with the integration of national cable TV networks by the end of 2020, which will also be the end of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan.

In 2016, the Propaganda Department of the CCP’s Central Committee, the Ministry of Finance, and SARFT jointly issued "Opinions on Accelerating the Integration and Development of the National Cable TV Network", which outlined a combination of requirements. This included integration of the national cable TV network by the end of 2020, involving provincial cable-TV network companies, plus other national joint-stock companies.

According to the documents on DBVCN, the "National Cable TV Network Integration and Development Implementation Plan" was issued by nine ministries and commissions. They include detailed explanations on this broadcasting and television "national joint-stock company".

On March 21, 2019, a signing event was held in Beijing for strategic cooperation to encourage the integration of a national cable-TV network. China Broadcasting and Television Network, China CITIC Group and Alibaba Group all signed strategic cooperation framework agreements.

In August 2019, the General Administration of Radio, Film and Television issued "Opinions on Promoting the High-Quality Development of the Radio, Television and Network Audiovisual Industry", which once again proposed "accelerating the formation of a national cable TV network joint stock company."

On November 21, 2019, China Radio and Television participated in the world 5G conference as an operator for the first time, and officially announced a 5G commercial timetable. The following month, it received the number 192 as a public mobile communication network.

In February this year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued radio frequency use licenses to China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Radio and Television, respectively, and agreed that the three companies jointly use the frequency band 3300-3400MHz for 5G indoor coverage nationwide.

Also in February 2020, China Radio and Television Network Co Ltd announced that it had recently completed the deployment of an online video conference system with provincial network companies across the country.

On February 19, 2020, China Radio and Television stated that, in response to the call for "no classes or non-stops" during the epidemic, it and and Gehua Cable had set up the first domestic radio and television 5G online education platform in Beijing.

Then on April 23, 2020, China Radio and Television held a network integration audit and evaluation work layout meeting, marking the official launch of the national cable TV network integration audit and evaluation work.

It is expected the new technology behemoth will work with CCTV to broadcast the upcoming Peoples’ Congress in Beijing.