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LCQ5: Reception of television signals in remote areas

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Che-cheung and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, in the Legislative Council today (May 6):


     Some residents in remote areas in the New Territories West have relayed to me that they have all along been unable to receive analogue television and digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcast signals (TV signals) and have repeatedly lodged complaints with the Communications Authority (CA) but to no avail. A spokesman of the CA told the media that the transmission networks for delivering domestic free television programme services (free TV) were built and operated by the Asia Television Limited and the Television Broadcasts Limited (the two TV broadcasters), and the CA would make arrangements as appropriate to take on-site signal measurements or refer the complaints to the two TV broadcasters for follow-up. Moreover, according to the information cited by the Government from the two TV broadcasters, the DTT network coverage has reached 99 per cent of the Hong Kong population. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the villages and areas which are currently not covered by the DTT network, with indication of the locations of such villages and areas on a map; the number of residents in these villages and areas;

(2) whether it knows the methods and criteria adopted by the two TV broadcasters for calculating the DTT network coverage; whether locations encircled by coverage areas but in which TV signals cannot be received due to geographical features (e.g. blockage of signals by hilly terrains) have been excluded from the calculation of the coverage;

(3) as it has been reported that some residents in remote areas can only receive TV signals after they have built signal receiving stations in their villages by raising funds, whether these areas have been included in the calculation of the TV network coverage;

(4) of the number of complaints received by the authorities in the past three years about reception of free TV broadcast signals and, among them, the number of cases referred to the two TV broadcasters for handling, with a breakdown by District Council district;

(5) how the authorities ensure the proper handling of the cases referred to the two TV broadcasters; and

(6) given that the residents in some areas have not been unable to receive TV signals for over a decade or so, of the authorities' measures to help resolve the problem; whether the authorities will provide subsidies or loans for residents in these areas and other remote areas for installing facilities for receiving TV signals; if they will not, of the reasons for that?



     My reply to the six parts of the question is as follows:

(1) to (3) At present, the construction and operation of the transmission network of the free television (TV) service in Hong Kong are the responsibility of the two domestic free television programme (free TV) service licensees, namely Asia Television Limited (ATV) and Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB). By end-2013, the coverage rate of the digital terrestrial television (DTT) service has reached at least 99 per cent of the Hong Kong population.

     The coverage rate has already taken into account the distribution of the population in Hong Kong, the blockage of TV signals due to hilly terrains and buildings, and the transmission pattern of TV broadcast signals as simulated by computer, and is calculated after sample site checks of the computer simulated assessment data.

     The assessment of the computer simulation can only demonstrate that poor TV reception may be experienced in certain individual areas owing to geographical and other environmental factors. Such areas are mostly located at remote areas where population is more sparsely distributed; for example, the areas at the south of the Lantau Island, the northeast of the New Territories near the border, and the remote areas in Yuen Long and Sai Kung. Nevertheless, the actual reception situation of individual households in the above-mentioned areas may vary according to the exact location of the premises and other environmental factors (i.e. individual households may experience normal or poor TV reception). Accordingly, the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) does not have any information on the exact number of residents who experience poor reception of TV broadcast signals in individual areas. The residents who are unable to receive DTT broadcast signals are not included in the calculation of the coverage rate mentioned above.

     DTT fill-in stations (fill-in stations) have been constructed in certain areas on a self-financed basis to improve the TV reception situation of the area. The number of residents covered by such fill-in stations is not included in the calculation of coverage rate mentioned above.

(4) to (5) In the three years between January 2012 to December 2014, in response to complaints received from residents on the reception of TV broadcast signals, the OFCA conducted a total of 1 052 site checks (442 site checks in 2012, 339 site checks in 2013 and 271 site checks in 2014) in order to provide to the residents concerned technical advice on improving TV reception. During the three years mentioned above, the OFCA has referred a total of 681 cases to ATV and TVB for follow up (374 cases in 2012, 265 cases in 2013 and 42 cases in 2014). The OFCA does not have a breakdown of the figures by district.

      The OFCA will pay attention to the progress of the follow up actions taken by the free TV licensees, and will contact the relevant complainants if necessary to monitor the follow up actions taken by the free TV licensees.

(6) As mentioned in parts (1) to (3) above, the construction and operation of the transmission network of free TV service in Hong Kong is at present the responsibility of the two free TV licensees.

     Should viewers experience difficulties in TV reception, they can call the hotline of the OFCA (2961 6333) for assistance. The OFCA will be pleased to follow up and will arrange for site checking of TV broadcast signals as necessary; or refer the cases to the free TV licensees for follow up and for provision of technical advice to assist the viewers to improve TV reception. We have no plans of providing subsidies or loans for the construction of the relevant network.
Ends/Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Issued at HKT 14:24