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Hong Kong enters new digital broadcasting era (with video)

    Hong Kong is entering a new era of digital broadcasting with the two domestic free television stations, Asia Television Limited (ATV) and Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), launching digital terrestrial television (DTT) in phases from December 31 to bring viewers a brand new audio-visual experience.

     Speaking at a press conference today (November 26), the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Frederick Ma, said, "DTT broadcasting will bring to viewers a wide array of free programme choices, better reception and open up new creativity platforms for television production.

     "Hong Kong will be the first to adopt the national DTT transmission standard developed by the Mainland. The initial launch of DTT broadcasting will cover about 50% of the population of Hong Kong (covering Kowloon peninsula, the northern part of Hong Kong Island, part of Sha Tin and the eastern part of Lantau Island).

     "The two stations have pledged to speed up the construction of six transmission stations to advance the target of providing 75% coverage from the end of next year to early next August, so that more people would be able to watch the 2008 Beijing Olympics with digital broadcasting."

     ATV and TVB will simulcast their existing four television programme channels in digital format, and launch new free channels on standard definition television (SDTV) and high definition television (HDTV). The two stations will continue to broadcast the four existing channels in analogue format, so viewers can choose when to switch to digital broadcasting according to their own needs and at their own pace.

     Television sets currently available on the market, including the older cathode ray tube television sets and the newer plasma or LCD flat-panel television sets, are not capable of decoding DTT signals. To watch DTT programmes, viewers will need to connect their existing television sets to a digital set-top box, or buy an integrated digital television set with a built-in decoder for receiving DTT signals.

     To enable consumers to make an informed choice when purchasing the DTT receivers, the Government has introduced a voluntary scheme to label DTT receivers.

     Two types of DTT receivers will be available. "Basic-tier receivers" are capable of receiving the four existing television channels simulcast in digital format, with significant improvement in reception quality in eliminating ghosting or snowing. On top of the functions of the "basic-tier receivers", "higher-tier receivers" are capable of receiving all SDTV and HDTV programmes.

     Since DTT signals will be broadcast on new frequency channels, building management offices might need to upgrade their communal aerial system to receive and distribute the DTT programmes. The Housing Department has already planned to upgrade the cable distribution system at its own expense for all public housing estates in the territory in phases. The Government will also liaise with major property management companies to provide them with technical assistance in carrying out the upgrading works.

     To educate the public about DTT, announcements produced for the first time in high-definition format will be shown on television starting today. The TV announcements will also be shown in the showrooms of major electronics retailers.

     The Government will also join with the Consumer Council and the two TV stations to launch public education and publicity campaigns, including distributing leaflets and posters, to provide correct information on DTT.

Ends/Monday, November 26, 2007
Issued at HKT 16:56


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