Impossible task for Cable TV, court told

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 March, 2004, 12:00am

The Telecommunications Authority had asked Cable TV to do the impossible when it ordered the company to restore satellite services to 'all buildings in the territory', a judicial review heard yesterday.

It was not government policy that people should enjoy an unrestricted choice of television services, the Court of First Instance also heard. The claims were made by a lawyer for Hong Kong Cable Television, which is seeking to overturn a May 7, 2003 direction issued by the authority.

Channel V, Phoenix Chinese Channel and Star World are beamed via the Satellite Master Antenna Television (SMATV) system. The order was given after the authority found Cable had obstructed the services of SMATV licensees and breached the Subscription Television Broadcasting Licence.

The direction ordered Cable to submit a plan within 14 days to restore the reception of SMATV services for affected subscribers in all buildings in the territory. It also required Cable to make sure subscribers could receive its services and SMATV services without 'any derogation of the service quality of both services'.

Paul Shieh Wing-tai SC, counsel for Cable TV, told Mr Justice Michael Hartmann the direction went beyond ensuring compliance with the Subscription Television Broadcasting Licence, as the licence did not require concurrent reception be provided to Cable subscribers.

He said concurrent reception needed an interconnection agreement to be entered into by Cable TV and SMATV operators and building owners. It was not within Cable's power to conclude such an agreement, Mr Shieh added.

The review continues today.