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OFCA's statement on issues raised by HKTV on provision of broadcast-type mobile television services

     In response to media enquiries on a number of issues raised by Hong Kong Television Network Limited (HKTV) in a press briefing held today (March 17) regarding the provision of broadcast-type mobile television services (Mobile TV Services) by Hong Kong Mobile Television Network Limited (HKMTV), the spokesman for the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) said:

     "As explained in a press statement OFCA issued earlier today, there is no evidence supporting the claim that Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) and Asia Television Limited (ATV) provide Mobile TV Services. Since on the basis of the available information, no case of a breach of the Telecommunications Ordinance (TO) (Cap. 106) or the Fixed Carrier Licences (FCL) by the two licensees is substantiated, the allegation of HKTV against OFCA of not enforcing the TO or the FCLs against ATV and TVB for providing Mobile TV Services without licences under the TO are ungrounded. There is also no question of any discretion being exercised by the Communications Authority (CA) on the matter on TVB and ATV.

     As to HKTV's complaint against OFCA of disclosing commercially sensitive information of HKMTV, OFCA believes HKTV is referring to the background briefing convened by OFCA on March 13, 2014, when OFCA explained in response to media enquiry that HKMTV's selection of technical parameter (such as 64QAM) under the Digital Terrestrial Multimedia Broadcasting (DTMB) standard was not suitable for mobile reception but fixed reception. Given 64QAM is one of the common technical parameters available in television broadcasting standard, OFCA does not agree that such technical setting constitutes any commercially sensitive information as claimed by HKTV. OFCA notes that when submitting the relevant information including the technical parameters to OFCA on January 23, 2014, HKMTV did not classify the document as confidential, nor was there any reference in it to the effect that the information contained therein was commercially sensitive.

     As regards HKTV's claim that OFCA selectively disclosed to the media the technical parameters proposed by HKMTV, OFCA was in fact responding to the media enquiries as to whether there was any indication about HKMTV's plan relating to providing the services for fixed reception. Only 64QAM was mentioned in the reply.
     As to HKTV's allegation that OFCA has yet to respond to the legal/technical issues raised in a total of four letters HKMTV sent to OFCA through its solicitors on February 20, 21, 28 and March 4, 2014 respectively, OFCA's response is that there is a big difference between the fact that HKTV does not agree with the position of OFCA in principle on the issues raised as set out in OFCA's reply to HKMTV of March 11, 2014 through our solicitors, and HKTV's allegation that OFCA has not responded to the issues raised.  

     OFCA also notes that HKTV made reference to the Legislative Council Brief entitled "Framework for Development of Mobile Television Services" dated December 22, 2008 to support its view that Mobile TV Services should not be subject to the licensing requirement under the Broadcasting Ordinance (Cap.562) (BO). OFCA would like to draw HKTV's attention to Paragraph 14 of the Brief, which reads: "In relation to programming, the Broadcasting Ordinance (Cap.562) currently does not regulate television programme services for mobile reception (i.e. reception on the move not related to any specified premises) in Hong Kong unless the services are not primarily targeting Hong Kong."

     A logical reading of the above is that the statement that the BO currently does not regulate television programme services for mobile reception is not applicable when the reception relates to any specified premises.

     As to HKTV's view that in light of the licensing requirement under the BO, no technically feasible standard would be available for HKMTV to deploy for the provision of Mobile TV Services without breaching the BO, OFCA would like to remind HKMTV of our advice that the use of transmission standards other than DTMB, such as Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld (DVB-H) or China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting (CMMB), are viable options. Also, the use of effective technical measures including but not limited to encryption by HKMTV to prevent reception by audience of domestic premises is also a feasible option.

     The CA Secretariat is now making arrangements for HKMTV to, as per its request on February 28, 2014, meet with the CA and make oral representations on the issues relating to the Mobile TV Services at the CA's regular meeting in March 2014."

Ends/Monday, March 17, 2014
Issued at HKT 23:32


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