Cirmaker Technology Corp., which manufactures set top boxes for digital TV signal reception, CPU coolers for computers and electronic components, today announced that it has received the three required licenses from the mainland Chinese government agencies to manufacture set-top boxes (STBs) for satellite, cable and microwave connections that are capable of converting an analog signal to a digital signal.
There are an estimated 340 million analog television sets in China, according to the market research organization of the China Central TV station, the government channel. Most of them will require a STB system to receive the digital signal into an existing analog TV. In China, a digital TV costs five to ten times the price of an analog TV. The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, the government agency that promotes television, radio and movies in China, expects that by 2008, the year the Olympics is being held in Beijing, 200 million households will have completed the conversion to digital from analog. At the end of 2003, fewer than 170,000 households were equipped with sets that received a digital signal. It is estimated that there are cable systems in about half of the Chinese provinces; the rest will use satellite. A set-top box system for satellite reception includes a satellite dish, a tuner and a receiver. It sells in China for approximately $50.
The Chinese Ministry of Information Industry (MII) issues the "on-site" production license, which only one manufacturer in a region obtains. MII issued only eight of these licenses to manufacture STBs; no more will be issued. All eight licensees are owned by mainland Chinese companies. Cirmaker Technology owns its license through its 66% ownership stake in Shaanxi New Century Electronics Co., which is producing the STBs under the Ruyi brand name.
The other two licenses are: the 3C-quality license, which is evidence that the production methods meet government quality standards, and a license to permit the connection of the STB to the television transmission network. Ruyi is one of the top-selling television set brands in mainland China. The owner of the Ruyi well-established brand, Shaanxi Ruyi Electric, is one of the nation's top TV set manufacturers, and owns 34% of Shaanxi New Century Electronics.