China cracks down on foreign satellite TV services

China is cracking down on cable television operators who offer unauthorized foreign satellite broadcasts, the communist government's latest bid to maintain its monopoly on information, local media, quoted by an Associated Press report, said.

The Associated Press report said China's TV regulator last month ordered local authorities to root out operators that provide Chinese homes with foreign channels, which are officially restricted to tourist hotels and compounds where foreigners work and live, according to Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper.

Summaries of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television's order said it was aimed at strengthening regulation, maintaining government information controls and 'blocking the intellectual and cultural infiltration of enemy forces.'

Penalties were not stipulated, although the report said violators would have to reapply for the right to receive all satellite broadcasts.

The highest profile victim of the crackdown could be Hong Kong's Phoenix satellite news channel, hugely popular among China's urban middle class and received in millions of homes across the country despite the restrictions, the report said.

The report said the crackdown was intended to both silence voices other than official media and protect the monopolies of local stations that have lost viewers to channels such as Phoenix.

The joint venture with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. offers a wider range of news and views, although it largely hews to the official Chinese government standpoint and avoids sensitive political and social issues.