Television Broadcasting in Hong Kong
The Government carried out a comprehensive television policy review in 1998, and subsequently opened up the television market in 2000. There is no ceiling on the number of licences to be granted, subject to physical or technological constraints.
The Government has adopted a technology-neutral regulatory regime since 2000. Television programme services are licensed and regulated according to their nature and pervasiveness rather than their transmission mode. Under the Broadcasting Ordinance, the four categories of television programme services, namely domestic free, domestic pay, non-domestic and other licensable television programme services, are regulated according to their characteristics and pervasiveness rather than their transmission mode.
There are three domestic free television programme service (free TV) licensees: Fantastic Television Limited (Fantastic TV), HK Television Entertainment Company Limited (HKTVE) and Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB). Fantastic TV, HKTVE and TVB, by using frequency spectrum and/or fixed network as transmission mode for the delivery of their free TV services, are currently providing three domestic channels in analogue format and eight domestic channels (including simulcasting the three analogue channels) in digital format. The three broadcasters are required to broadcast news, documentary, current affairs, arts and culture programmes and programmes for children (including educational programmes targeting teenagers), young persons and senior citizens. HKTVE and TVB, which use frequency spectrum as transmission mode, are also required to broadcast programmes provided by Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK). RTHK is HK's public service broadcaster that produces programmes of public interest for broadcast on its own digital terrestrial television (DTT) channels, free and pay television channels. In January 2014, RTHK commenced broadcast of three DTT channels. RTHK also commenced the simulcast of its digital television programmes on the two analogue channels vacated by Asia Television Limited on 2 April 2016.
Pay television has no longer been a monopoly since 2000. There are currently two domestic pay television programme service licensees, namely, Hong Kong Cable Television Limited and PCCW Media Limited. Pay television services are subject to less content regulation but it is a statutory requirement that the service provider must provide a locking device to protect minors from accessing contents for adults. Pay television operators may provide their services via multiple transmission means, e.g., hybrid fibre coaxial cable, microwave, satellite, broadband network, etc.
Hong Kong viewers now enjoy a diversity of programming on pay television. The number of pay television channels provided by licensees has increased to more than 300 from only eight when pay television was first launched in 1993. Pay television operators are also providing better services, for example, all the pay television platforms are now fully digitised. Some operators have launched innovative services such as ultra high-definition television, 3D and interactive programmes.
Hong Kong positions itself as the broadcasting hub of the Asia Pacific region. Currently, there are 15 non-domestic television programme service licensees providing over 180 satellite television channels for the Asia Pacific region.
The Government also adopts an "open sky" policy. Through satellite master antenna television (SMATV) and television receive only systems, Hong Kong people are free to receive unencrypted satellite television programme channels uplinked from Hong Kong and elsewhere. There are now over 400 such free-to-air satellite television channels available for reception in Hong Kong. About 890 000 premises in multi-storey buildings have access to satellite channels through their SMATV systems. Typically, they can receive about 10 satellite channels.
(Last update Apr 2018)