Louise Duffy ©RapidTVNews | 19-08-2011

Australia's Sky News has signed a $223m deal with Chinese state television China Central Television (CCTV) to run Australia's official TV service broadcasts in China.

The agreement means live and breaking news stories from Sky News will be broadcast in China with reciprocal rights back into Australia.

In a statement, Sky News and CCTV said: “For the first time, Australian major news events will be seen live in China, and major Chinese news events seen live on Australia's news channel."

The deal marks a step forward for Sky News, which has been locked in a battle with ABC to secure rights for the Australia Network – a diplomatic service that broadcasts Australian TV into international markets. In June the Australian government stepped in a delayed awarding the contract for six months.

According to Sky News, China is reluctant to broadcast foreign content without a reciprocal deal and that is why its bid had an edge over the ABC. The deal won't provide it with a permanent presence on Chinese TV screens, but it is a foot in the door for the broadcaster.

The ABC and Sky also both have reciprocal programming agreements with the Shanghai Media Group, while the ABC has had a longstanding broad relationship with CCTV, and last year signed a cooperative agreement with Chongqing Television and Radio Group.