Hong Kong viewers will enjoy high-definition television (HDTV) programs via digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting in 2007, Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology John Tsang said.
According to Tsang, the Chief Executive in Council has approved the policy of implementing DTT broadcasting.
The two incumbent terrestrial television broadcasters, namely Asia Television Limited (ATV) and Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), will start simulcasting both analogue and digital terrestrial television services within 2007 at the latest, Tsang said.
Tsang said that if a national standard is not promulgated by the Chinese mainland before the end of 2006, the Hong Kong government will let the market decide on the selection of the technical standard.
ATV and TVB have however indicated that they will adopt the European DVB-T technical standard for digital broadcasting by then in order not to further delay the rollout of DTT services.
Out of the five multiplexes available in Hong Kong, ATV and TVB will share one for digital migration, i.e. simulcasting and will each take up one additional multiplex to launch new HDTV broadcasting services, he said.
The remaining two multiplexes will be assigned at a later stage after ATV and TVB have confirmed the technical feasibility of the Single Frequency Network configuration.
Subject to further technical and market studies, the Hong Kong government aims to switch off analogue broadcasting in five years after the commencement of simulcast. ATV and TVB shall extend the coverage of their digital networks to 75 percent of the area of Hong Kong within 2008 after the start of simulcasting within 2007 at the latest, Tsang said.
Tsang said that the objective of launching the DTT broadcasting was to enhance Hong Kong's broadcasting infrastructure to make it a leading digital city, improve spectrum efficiency, and enhance the quality of broadcasting and communications services for the community.
"When most TV households have switched over to DTT services, we may then consider switching off analogue broadcasting to release the spectrum for other communications services," Tsang said.
(Xinhua News Agency July 13, 2004)