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Working groups to ensure smooth launch of digital TV in Hong Kong

The Government has set up two working groups with the existing two terrestrial TV broadcasters, Asia Television Limited (ATV) and Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), to ensure a timely and smooth launch of digital TV in Hong Kong by 2007.

The working groups, led by the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA), will work with ATV and TVB to solve technical issues related to the transmission and reception of digital terrestrial television (DTT) and facilitate inter-departmental co-ordination to ensure successful migration from analogue to digital TV at different stages.

Speaking at a press conference today (March 29) on the implementation plan of digital TV, the Deputy Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology (Communications and Technology), Mrs Marion Lai, said the Government's priority was smooth transition of existing analogue terrestrial TV services to digital terrestrial services. The pre-requisite for such a transition was the roll-out of digital broadcasting network.

"With more content on the digital platform, better reception quality and new high-definition TV services, we believe that consumers in Hong Kong will readily acquire the products to reap the benefits of digital TV.

"We need to raise public awareness of the advent of digital TV broadcasting to ensure a smooth digital switchover. We will also collaborate with the industry to disseminate information about digital TV, e.g. consumer product availability and compatibility, work out plans to promote consumer take-up, and ensure a smooth analogue switch-off at a later stage," Mrs Lai said.

In this regard, a new website www.digitaltv.gov.hk was launched today as part of a major publicity drive to raise public awareness and improve their understanding of digital TV. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section will help people understand the digital terrestrial TV project. It offers answers to a series of mostly asked questions about digital terrestrial TV, such as "What do I need in order to watch high definition TV (HDTV)?"

A pamphlet containing basics about digital TV is available at the various Public Enquiry Service Centres of the Home Affairs Department. It can also be downloaded from the digital TV website.

In July, 2004, the Government announced the implementation framework for digital TV in Hong Kong with the following major milestones:

- by 2007 ATV and TVB shall start broadcasting their existing services in both analogue and digital format (simulcasting) and launch a new digital service on the respective additional frequency channel assigned to them;

- ATV and TVB shall extend the coverage of their digital networks to at least 75% of Hong Kong by 2008;

- If the Mainland has not promulgated a national standard before end of 2006, ATV and TVB will adopt the European DVB-T standard which has been widely adopted internationally;

- subject to further market and technical studies, the Government will direct ATV and TVB to switch off analogue broadcasting within five years after the commencement of simulcast, i.e., by 2012.

The Broadcasting Authority has approved ATV and TVB's investment plans for digital TV programme service and network rollout. ATV has committed an investment totaling more than $400 million up to 2009 to provide a hybrid digital service of HDTV and multi-channel broadcasting, while TVB has committed an investment of more than $400 million up to 2009 to provide an HDTV channel starting from end 2007. This HDTV channel will include not fewer than 14 hours per day of HDTV programmes.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006