CHINA has emerged as a front in the battle between Sky News and ABC to secure the next $100 million DEFAT contract to broadcast Australia Network.
ABC chairman Maurice Newman last week signed an agreement with Shanghai Media Group in China, while Sky chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos was on hand in Sydney on Thursday when regional pay-TV group Austar officially added Chinese national broadcaster CCTV to its line-up.
The ABC, which has the current Australia Network contract, said the agreement with SMG would give the two broadcasters the option to exchange television programs, provide news gathering support and explore international television program co-productions.
Selected Australia Network programs -- which range from ABC news to Bananas in Pyjamas and Home and Away -- "will soon" be seen on International Channel Shanghai.
Sky and the ABC are keen to underline their international credentials as Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith considers submissions on the future of Australia Network. Mr Smith received submissions from the ABC and Sky last Monday and will make a decision about whether to put the next five-year contract up for tender. An announcement is not expected until after the federal election.
The battle of Australia Network comes at a particularly tense time for the ABC and Sky, which is owned by Seven, Nine and BSkyB (part-owned by News Corporation, publisher of The Australian). The two broadcasters are now direct competitors following the launch of the ABC's 24-hour news channel.
Read more at The Australian