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Getting tv in Shenzhen
Since about 2006, Shenzhen has digital television throughout the city. This means you need a special box below your TV to convert the digital signal into something your TV can understand. The TV network is built by Shenzhen Media Group who owns Shenzhen TV stations, broadcasting stations, movie factory etc. SZ media group also owns Topway, the company that you as end user will buy the TV subscription from. This article explains how to get a TV subscription and also dives a bit into censorship of the (English) TV channels.
Topway offers both TV and Internet servies via the cable, and you can apply for it via their website:, call the hotline 96933, or go to one of the sales points in the city.

Costs for SD and HD TV:

The setop box cost 360 yuan, but you still need a smart card which cost 60 extra. Unless you want to install it yourself, you will also need to pay the installation fee of 100 yuan. If you want to add additional TVs, you pay the reduced installation fee of 50yuan for those additional TVs. So the total for one TV is 520yuan and for any additional TV 470yuan.

The SD subscription costs 28yuan per month which includes about 80 channels. There are 4 channels from Hong Kong: two English and two Cantonese channels. All the others are mainland Chinese program. For example, all CCTV channels, all local Shenzhen channels, and provincial channels. Besides TV you also have radio, news, weather forcast and living information on the digital channel that is accessible by pressing a special button on your remote control.

Topway also offer HDTV, the box cost 1000yuan, but you can also rent it for 15yuan per month. Once you bought the special HD box you get 10 free HD channels besides the regular channels. All these HD channels are Chinese: for example CCTV HD, Shenzhen TV HD etc.

If you want more channels, especially some English channels, you need to buy these seperately from the basic subscription. This page lists the prices. For example BBC World(25), CNN(25), HBO(50), Cinemax(20), Discovery(20), NGC(20), CNBC(25), TV5(50), ESPN+Eurosport(30). Often it's cheaper not to buy one particular channel, but to buy a packages which includes several channels at a reduced price. These packages are listed on this page . For example CNN + BBC World + CNBC and some others costs in total 75Y/month.

The TV menu is totally in Chinese, but it doesn't really matter I think. Finding 20 (CCTV9 English), 24 and 25 (Pearl and ATV from HK) becomes second nature :)

Censorship TV

The basic package contains two English spoken channels from Hong Kong. In Hong Kong they have much more press freedom compared to the mainland, so the Chinese governments routes the signals from Hong Kong first to Guangzhou. There they will cut any parts that are deemed unsuitable for the mainland. For example during the evening news, you very often suddenly see a advertisement in the middle of the sentence which runs till whatever "dangerous" contents is over. Also in the weekends the government censors the two English channels from Hong Kong for most part of the day. Till about 17h you will just get endless loops of very annoying Chinese advertisements. Even when, according to the digital TV guide, there is some harmless program about for example nature reserves in Africa. We've tried to complain several times about this, but as you would expect: it's totally useless. The Topway people are of course very polite and will just say that many people complained, but that it's not their responsibility and they cannot give you the telephone number of anyone who is in charge of the censorship. Obviously a trained response. You don't have much choice either, because there is only one TV provider and you cannot switch to someone else. They have no incentive at all to improve it. I do not know if the pay-to-view channels such as CNN are censored in a similar way, but it might be something you want to ask about before you buy.

Censorship looks something like this (from 2008):

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3.26 Copyright (C) 2008 / Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 December 2010 )
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