Cable TV offers hope to households that have been left out of the picture

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 November, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 November, 2002, 12:00am

Thousands of households in Clearwater Bay and Sai Kung may finally get Cable TV.

The pay-television station is negotiating with the University of Science and Technology to set up a relay station on its Clearwater Bay campus.

Another relay station, covering Tsing Yi, was put into service last week, external affairs manager Garman Chan Ka-yiu said.

The development came after six international pay-TV channels - all but one carried by Cable - sued five local companies for selling illegal satellite decoders that pick up TV signals in Southeast Asia and on the mainland.

The move backfired when television viewers wrote to newspapers to support the companies being sued.

Jim Smith, of Clearwater Bay, said he had installed a satellite dish because he could not get Cable TV.

'There are only two free-to-air stations in Hong Kong. Both of their English channels are below par. The only choice left is Cable TV. And I have been calling them every year to subscribe to their services and each time I am told no,' he said.

'In a way, we are forced to use so-called pirated satellite services. I have no complaint with these companies though. They are efficient and helpful.'

Businessman Lam Kwong-wai, who lives in Sai Kung, said Cable TV was ignoring districts with low-density populations.

'I want to watch European football and CNN news reports. I can get these easily in Thailand or Singapore. But in Hong Kong we have to beg Cable TV, even if we are willing to pay. That shows how bad our telecommunication market is,' he said.

Mr Chan said Cable's network covered 1.97 million households, or more than 95 per cent of the SAR. Technical difficulties prevented it from reaching the remaining households until more relay stations could be built.

The six channels that sued are Star TV, CNN, the Turner Entertainment Network, NGC Network, ESPN Star Sports and Discovery.

At least one of the five companies being sued, Tongyong Youhe, has closed because of the lawsuit.