Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation
is selling a controlling stake in three Chinese television channels.
It will offload the shares to China
Media Capital, a private equity fund backed by China’s second largest media
company, Shanghai Media Group.
No value was put on the stakes in
Xing Kong, Xing Kong International and Channel Mainland China.
The move is seen by some as News’
winding down its interests in China’s tightly controlled media market.
Along with rivals such as Times Warner
and Viacom, Mr Murdoch’s company had hoped to attract mass audiences in China
when it launched television channels there in the 1990s.
But besides restrictions on
content, Beijing also limited distribution primarily to Guangdong province in
the south – limiting firms’ abilities to attract audiences in other parts of
the world’s most populous country.
Last year News overhauled Star TV,
its Asia flagship based in Hong Kong, with many seeing this as an acknowledgement
of the firm’s growing emphasis on India.
After two decades of operating in
China, News Corp had “done the inevitable” said Vivek Coto, an
analyst with Medias partners Asia.
“They see the best option to
grow in the market is to make sure the business is in control of local
News Corp includes Fox broadcast
and cable networks, 20th Century Fox film studios, Harper Collins book
publisher, and newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and the Times.