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But other technical analysts challenge those claims, saying the AsiaSat satellite provides superior direct coverage of mainland China. Many lower-income Chinese also favor the larger satellite dish served by the AsiaSat satellite, in part because more of its programming is offered for free.

In its most recent annual report, the BBG said its Chinese-language VOA programming is carried on 12 television stations and 70 radio stations in China “despite the Chinese government’s tightening control of the media.”

The report said that Chinese audience surveys “clearly indicated that more Chinese viewers in the ‘direct-to-home’ satellite television community are now able to view VOA Mandarin programs” with the new satellite’s signal.