Sun, Mar 27, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Beijing firm releases TV drama for cellphones

AP , BEIJING

Coming to a tiny screen near you: A drama to be shown on mobile phones.

A Beijing company is filming a romance in five-minute episodes that it says is China's first television program made exclusively for the viewscreens of mobile phones.

China's mobile phone market is booming, with a population of users that the government says should surpass 400 million this year.

Companies are rushing to cash in with services ranging from news and sports reports to horoscopes. One firm announced plans in July for a novel to be transmitted to phones in 70-word chapters.

The five-episode phone drama, Appointment, is about a love triangle between a woman and two men, according to its producer, Beijing Leshi Media Group.

Television by mobile phone is still in its infancy in China. The first services were offered last year.

The few programs sent to phones have been versions of regular television broadcasts, said an employee of Beijing Leshi, who would give only his surname, Wang.

Viewers who want to see Appointment will need a specially equipped South Korean-made phone, Wang said.

He didn't know how many Chinese had such phones.

Phones equipped for television sell in China for about 5,000 yuan (US$600), several times the price of a standard phone, according to a report on the Web site of the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily.

Despite that, one market research firm says that by 2010 the country could have 120 million subscribers receiving television programs by phone, the People's Daily said.

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