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France switches 3D TV channel off; China switches it on

French pay TV operator Canal Plus is to axe its 3D channel after 18 months of operation following low consumer take up. The service, which kicked off in June 2010 in time for the Football World Cup, will close 24 January.

The channel attracted just 20,000 subscribers despite considerable marketing. "Most of them started watching a program in 3D, and quickly switched back to 2D.

"3D is more suited to cinema consumption than TV, at least as long as 3D glasses are needed," the spokesperson told Variety. Another issue was the low level of sales of 3D TV sets in France, due to their high cost.

Since March, the 3D service has aired a different live sports event and a new feature film each month. Last month, it aired its first 3D documentary, Makay, a big-budget expedition into Madagascar's Makay Valley.

Canal Plus Managing Director René Saal said that for now development and marketing would be refocused back on HD television, although he did not rule out restarting its 3D channel in the future.

While France is pulling the plug on its 3D channel, China has launched its first 3D TV on a trial basis, following on the success of Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, the first 3D wuxia (martial arts) movie.

CCTV 3D, the channel, operated by China Central Television (CCTV) and five local stations, started trial broadcasters on 1 January

The free-to-air channel will initially broadcast 4.5 hours of 3D programming each day which will be repeated twice. In addition to regular programming like sports, animation, documentaries, nature programmes and entertainment shows, the channel will present two special events, the 2012 Spring Festival Gala and the 2012 London Olympics, in 3D.

The broadcast regulator suggested that the new service could generate huge revenue for the consumer electronics industry if a small proportion of China's 500 million TV sets were replaced by 3D models.

Story filed 12.01.12

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