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Chinese Government’s Ban on Satellite TV Receivers Meets with New Technologies

During the "two sessions" [the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)] held in Beijing, it was decided that satellite TV receivers would be taken off the shelves from China’s major online stores. One official, who was unwilling to disclose his name, told the VOA reporter that the Chinese government’s provision of banning individual citizens from receiving foreign satellite TV programs dates back to 1993. Then Premier Li Peng issued a regulation forbidding Chinese citizens from receiving foreign television programs, but allowing the installation of receivers at three-star hotels that accommodate foreigners. Later, the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) installed satellite receivers in every village so that the people in remote areas could "hear the voice of the Party’s central committee." Some people are now familiar with the technique of using one receiver to watch programs from multiple satellites. After watching the government programs, they are then able to switch immediately to programs from foreign satellites by just swirling the knob.

Recently, a number of self-immolation incidents have occurred in Tibetan areas. As a result, the Chinese government intensified the campaign against unauthorized installation of satellite TV receivers in Qinghai and other settlements of mostly Tibetans. During the "two sessions" in March this year, the Qinghai provincial government issued a new regulation to confiscate and burn satellite TV receivers in monasteries and residential homes, to impose fines for those who disobeyed, and to reward those who reported the sales network of receivers. In Huangnan Tibetan autonomous prefecture alone, 26,984 sets of satellite receiving equipment were confiscated and destroyed.

On the other hand, with the development of the Ku-band broadcasting satellite technology, satellite signals are growing stronger over China. At the same time, the ground satellite receiver is getting smaller and smaller. Some can even be put inside a room in the house or on the patio. A new technology has been developed called the TV rod. It can be plugged into the computer thus enabling the immediately reception and watching of foreign television programs, including Voice of America.

Source: Voice of America, April 8, 2013