All residents are able to access public television in China at no cost.
- CCTV China Central Television – The major state broadcaster with 18 channels broadcasting different programs including news, sports, documentary, comedy, drama, and entertainment in Chinese. CCTV 9 is the English-language channel broadcasting news, sports channel, and culture shows.
- BTV Beijing Television – The government-owned broadcaster providing programming on news, sports, documentary, comedy, drama, and entertainment in Chinese. There are 10 primary BTV channels but none are in English.
Hotels, upper tier housing, international apartment buildings, and housing complexes offer their residents some international channels via the building’s independent dish systems. These channels most likely include HBO Asia, Star Movies, CNN, BBC World, Star Sports, ESPN Asia, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic. Some may also include additional channels like AXN and CartoonNetwork. However, this varies by building and housing complexes and may include more or less channels. Ask your management office what channels their dish system provides.
Satellite TV has exploded in popularity in the last few years. In many residential areas, you’re likely to see small gray dishes clinging to rooftops or balconies pointed to the sky, ranging from 0.45m in diameter to 1.5m in diameter. Subscribing to satellite TV will allow you to access hundreds of overseas channels. Check with your housing management regarding rules regulating the installation of satellites.
There are many independent satellite TV providers in Beijing and subscribers should be wary of unscrupulous vendors. Beijing Satellite TV (http://www.bjstv.com/home.htm) and Satellite TV Online (http://www.satellitetvonline.cn/) have websites in English and provide different TV packages including ones in English, Japanese, French, etc. Your management office may also have the contact of providers that service others in your complex. One popular cable package includes the Dream Satellite TV feed with English programming. Satellite TV providers will have different options with costs that vary. Expect packages to start around 2,000 RMB for a satellite dish and annual subscription.