Hong Kong-based broadcaster Star TV has appointed Laurie Smith as executive vice president, China, as part of a drive to step up operations on the mainland.

Smith retains his current positions as chief representative of Star TV parent News Corp's Beijing office and COO of News Corp, China.

"This enables us to forge strong partnerships in broadcasting and interactive services in the China market," said Smith.

Star TV chairman James Murdoch praised Smith for laying a solid foundation over the last 18 months on which Star TV and News Corp could pursue business opportunities in China.

"His experience and expertise will be a valued addition to Star's management team as he will play a vital role in managing and developing Star's business in China,'' said Murdoch.

Star recently set up a Chinese Programming Department through which $64m (HK$500m) will be invested in Chinese-language film and television productions.

Along with rival Pacific Century CyberWorks (PCCW), Star is also seeking middlemen in China to distribute its internet video programming. This could become easier following recent moves by the Chinese government to allow cable and phone industries to enter each other's businesses.