Rupert Murdoch's News Corp signed an agreement Thursday with a Chinese provincial broadcaster to jointly finance and produce television programs in the world's fastest growing media market.
The deal between News Corp's Star Group and the Hunan Broadcasting Group was signed in Changsha, Hunan province Thursday, News Corp said in a statement.
"The agreement further broadens and deepens our development in China," said James Murdoch, Star chairman and chief executive.
"We are very excited to be partnering with Hunan TV, one of China's most innovative and dynamic broadcast groups."
The Hunan group, listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange, operates eight television channels, including the nationally broadcast Hunan Satellite TV.
"To team up with Star is our first strategic step to strengthen our cooperation with the outside world," Wei Wenbin, chairman of the Hunan group, said.
The deal was expected to give Star a foothold into China's fast-paced television production market, while providing Western capital, know-how and production techniques to the Hunan broadcaster, News Corp officials in Beijing said.
No other details, including the financial specifics, were revealed.
News Corp. became the first international broadcaster to beam programmes directly to Chinese television audiences in October when Star Group's partially-owned Phoenix Chinese Channel began transmitting into the Pearl River Delta region of southern Guangdong province.
At the beginning of the year Star got the green light to begin broadcasting a 24-hour Mandarin-language general entertainment channel into Guangdong province.
The deals were reciprocal, with News Corp's US-based Fox Network agreeing to air several English-language programs of China Central Television in the United States.
US media giant AOL Time Warner also reached agreement last October allowing its CETV cable network in parts of southern China in return for transmitting CCTV-9 in the US.
Star has been broadcasting several free-to-air channels around the Asian region, including Chinese and English-language entertainment, sports and film channels.