China Launches Zhongxing-9

China announced today the launch of its new communications satellite, Zhongxing-9, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern Sichuan Province.

The bird went up at 8:15 p.m. Beijing Time on Monday:

The satellite was shot into space aboard the Long March-3B rocket carrier. It was the 107th launch mission for the Long March series of carrier rockets….

The China Great Wall Industrial Corporation (CGWIC), the contractor of the satellite launch, signed the launch service contract with China Satcom in November 2005.

As the only company engaged in international commercial satellite launching services, CGWIC has launched 34 foreign satellites for 28 services.

Zhongxing-9 was built by France-based Thales Alenia Space for China Satcom, which plans to use it for live television broadcasts of the Beijing Olympic Games in August.

The launch of  Zhongxing-9 may help rural residents of China get a clearer picture of the Olympics, but other networks are getting increasingly worried about just what they’ll be able to broadcast to the rest of the world:

 Television networks that will broadcast the Beijing Olympics to billions around the world are squaring off with local organizers over stringent security that threatens coverage of the games in two months.

Differences over a wide range of issues — from limits on live coverage in Tiananmen Square to allegations that freight shipments of TV broadcasting equipment are being held up in Chinese ports — surfaced in a contentious meeting late last month between Beijing organizers and high-ranking International Olympic Committee officials and TV executives — including those from NBC.

In response to the complaints from broadcasters, Sun Weijia, head of media operations for the Beijing organizers, asked them to put it in writing, only to draw protests about mounting paperwork.

The CBC has more about TV execs’ mounting worries:

In a meeting with Chinese officials held in Beijing on May 29, nine media organizations that have paid for the rights to broadcast the Olympics were told there’s unlikely to be live coverage from Tiananmen Square or the Forbidden City.

This is a change from two months ago when International Olympic Committee officials in Beijing said China had agreed to allow live coverage.

Broadcasters have been denied permits to record aerial views of the two sites for media coverage of the Games, which begin Aug. 8.

"For us to potentially not be able to do live reports from Tiananmen — the most iconic place in China — is a disgrace," said Scott Moore, executive director of Canada’s CBC Sports. "I’ve been told that to do business in China, you have to have patience. We don’t have time to have patience. The Games have begun for us already."

It should be interesting to see how the Olympic broadcasting — which sounds like an event in and of itself — will play out.

One thing is for certain: it doesn’t matter how good your satcom broadcasting capability if you can’t get the shot you want to broadcast in the first place.