LCQ9: Receiving TV signals via HKCTV's signal distribution systems
The Wharf (Holdings) Limited announced early last month that its funding commitments to its i-CABLE would not be extended upon expiry. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows the respective numbers of households in public housing and private buildings that are currently receiving free television broadcast signals through the networks laid by i-CABLE in their buildings; whether it has assessed, in the event of i-CABLE's closing down, how such households' reception of free television broadcast will be affected, and whether any measures are in place to ensure that such households will not be affected; and
(2) whether the Labour Department has received any requests for assistance from employees of i-CABLE since the aforesaid announcement was made; if so, of the details?
We note the announcement of i-CABLE Communications Limited (i-Cable) (i.e. the parent company of Hong Kong Cable Television Limited (HKCTV)) of March 9, 2017. The announcement states that The Wharf (Holdings) Limited would not provide any further funding commitments to any of i-Cable and its subsidiaries (which include HKCTV) and the current funding commitments would not be renewed upon expiry. The Government has been watching closely the relevant developments. The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB) has impressed upon HKCTV that while it is a commercial decision of the companies concerned, given the impact on the public, it should make known as early as possible its decision(s) and to roll out appropriate measures in a timely manner to allay public concerns. The CEDB has also urged HKCTV, regardless of any decision it will make, to properly handle its current arrangements with relevant building management units in respect of the TV reception systems to ensure that the reception of free TV signals of households using the signal distribution system of HKCTV would not be affected.
Having consolidated the information provided by the Transport and Housing Bureau, the Office of the Communications Authority and the Labour Department, I now respond to the two-part question as follows:
(1) In general, residents of private housing buildings in Hong Kong receive free TV signals via the In-building Coaxial Cable Distribution System (IBCCDS). Such a system can be a Communal Aerial Broadcast Distribution (CABD) system installed by building owners/incorporated owners (IO)/building management offices (BMO) at their own cost, or a signal distribution system installed by HKCTV.
There are a large number of private housing buildings in Hong Kong which have established their own CABD systems as well as HKCTV's signal distribution systems. Through interconnection of the two systems, subscribers and ex-subscribers of HKCTV may receive all TV signals, including free TV signals and pay TV signals, via HKCTV's signal distribution systems. According to the Unified Carrier Licence of HKCTV, when subscribers terminate their subscription of HKCTV's service or HKCTV ceases to provide its services, HKCTV shall, at the request of subscribers or occupiers, reconnect their drop cables to the building's CABD systems so as to facilitate them to continue the reception of free TV signals through the CABD systems.
Besides, HKCTV has installed and maintained the only signal distribution systems in some private housing buildings, through which the residents receive all TV signals (including free TV signals and pay TV signals). Technically speaking, so long as these systems are properly maintained, and with electricity supply, the TV signals currently received by residents would not be affected by the operational status (including the status mentioned in part 1 of the question) of HKCTV. However, the BMO/IO concerned should reach an agreement with HKCTV on, amongst others, future maintenance of the signal distribution system by the BMO/IO.
It is a direct arrangement between the BMO/IO and HKCTV irrespective of whether the buildings adopt HKCTV's signal distribution systems as the only signal distribution systems or transmitting free TV broadcast services via HKCTV's signal distribution system through interconnection. Hence, we have no record of the number of residents concerned in private housing buildings.
Regarding public housing, there are at present 411 public rental housing blocks receiving free TV service via HKCTV's signal distribution system. The Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) is assessing the impact on the reception of free TV services by relevant residents in case the situation mentioned in part 1 of the question arises. Having regard to actual developments and the findings of the assessment, the HA will make appropriate arrangements to facilitate relevant residents to continue watching free TV broadcast.
(2) The Labour Department has not received any requests for assistance from employees of the company thus far. It will continue to monitor developments and render assistance to employees if needed.
Ends/Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:00
Issued at HKT 14:00