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LCQ3: Technical standard for digital terrestrial television

Following is a question by the Hon Jasper Tsang and a reply by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr Joseph WP Wong, at the Legislative Council meeting today (December 13):

Question:

The Implementation Framework for Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting, promulgated in July 2004 by the Government, stipulates that the two terrestrial television stations are required to start simulcasting both analogue and digital television services by 2007 at the latest. The Government also advised that by the end of 2006, the two television stations would submit to the Government a proposal on the broadcasting standard to be adopted in Hong Kong, and they would adopt the European DVB-T standard if the relevant Mainland authority had not promulgated a national standard on digital terrestrial broadcasting by that time. It has been reported that the relevant Mainland authority promulgated in late August this year the national standard on digital terrestrial broadcasting to be adopted, and the two television stations and the relevant Mainland authority are jointly conducting technical tests on the broadcasting standard. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) it knows the progress of the two television stations in determining the broadcasting standard to be adopted;

(b) it knows if the two television stations can submit the proposal to the Government by the end of this year as scheduled; if they cannot, of the submission date which the Government will specify; and

(c) it has assessed if the two television stations can launch their digital terrestrial broadcasting services within next year as scheduled; if they cannot, of the time to launch the services?

Reply:

Madam President,

After two rounds of extensive consultation in 2000 and 2003, the Administration announced in July 2004 the framework for the implementation of digital terrestrial television (DTT) (hereafter "the implementation framework"). The two domestic free television programme service licensees, namely, Asia Television Limited (ATV) and Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), shall launch DTT by 2007 and expand digital coverage to at least 75% of Hong Kong by 2008. These milestones form part of the conditions of ATV and TVB's domestic free television programme service licences.

According to the implementation framework, if the Mainland has not promulgated a national standard before the end of 2006, the Administration will adopt a market-led approach to the selection of DTT technical standard. Earlier when the Mainland did not promulgate the national standard, ATV and TVB indicated that they would consider adopting the European DVB-T standard, which has been widely adopted internationally. ATV and TVB have tested DVB-T standard before and the testing results indicate that it is suitable for Hong Kong. In August 2006, the Mainland authorities announced the national standard. Assisted by the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA), ATV and TVB have recently tested the national standard.

By end 2006, ATV and TVB shall submit their proposal for technical standard to the Telecommunications Authority (TA). After evaluating their proposal based on the merits of the proposed technical standard and on-site testing results, the TA will decide whether the proposed standard should be adopted.

Regarding parts (a), (b) and (c) of the question, my reply is as follows:

(a) Up to now, ATV and TVB have not submitted their proposal for technical standard;

(b) According to our understanding, ATV and TVB have just completed the initial testing of the national standard and are drafting the testing report. The OFTA is liaising with the two broadcasters. According to the implementation framework, the two broadcasters shall submit their proposal by the end of this year. Up to now, the two broadcasters have not requested the Administration to extend the deadline for the submission of technical standard proposal.

(c) Since we announced the implementation framework, the implementation of DTT has made good progress. The Broadcasting Authority and the TA have approved ATV and TVB's proposals for DTT programme services and network rollout plans respectively. The two broadcasters are embarking on network planning, design and construction, as well as testing the transmission and reception of digital signals.

According to the progress mentioned above, our assessment is that the two broadcasters will be able to launch DTT within 2007 in accordance with the implementation framework, regardless of which technical standard is adopted.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006