Websites and shopping malls help bring World Cup to China

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Indy Lifestyle Online

There were more than a few downcast eyes among China's football loving millions when it was announced that only one broadcaster would hold the rights to cover this summer's World Cup from South Africa.

In both mainland China (where the rights are held by the state-run CCTV) and down south in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong (where the rights are held by -Cable) the fear was that not everybody would have constant access to all the action, both through traditional channels such as television, and through more modern mean such as the internet.

But minds have been working overtime to address any possible imbalance.

In China this week, website www.pptv.com announced it had come to an arrangement with CCTV though which it will be allowed to pick up the TV station's World Cup shows coverage live online, will another website with a huge audience, www.youku.com, has said it will get around the problem by putting together its own live in-house shows that will do "everything but'' show the actual games as well as offering video-on-demand services which provide the games "delayed live''.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong - where pay TV i-Cable holds the reins - punters are finding friends in some of the city's largest shopping mall operators, who have decided to keep their complexes open late and provide big screens which will relay all the action live.

Eight malls - the Tsuen Kam Centre and the Grand City Plaza in Tsuen Wan, K-Point and Chelsea Heights in Tuen Mun, the Park Central and East Point City in Tseung Kwan, Landmark North in Sheung Shui and the Wtc More in Causeway Bay - will between them provide four big screens and 42 TV sets for the broadcasts.

i-Cable is one of two of the city's pay TV outlets, along with NOW TV, and the market is shared between the two - meaning some viewers were set to miss out on coverage if they failed to switch their service over.

Developer Sun Hung Kai Properties said in a press release it would also provide lucky draws to keep fans amused (some of the games will not start until 2.30am, Hong Kong time) - and among the prizes will be a VIP escort to work the next day.

MS

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