Cable TV denies charges for private digital links

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 December, 2007, 12:00am

Cable TV has denied obstructing contractors upgrading private buildings to receive digital broadcasting signals by charging TV users additional fees.

The broadcasting company is the only contractor appointed by the Housing Authority to upgrade TV reception systems in public housing estates across the city.

Unlike in public housing estates, the private housing sector has to find its own contractors to receive high-definition programming.

Recently, some private building owners complained to local Chinese-language newspapers that they had to seek 'permission' from Cable TV before upgrading TV systems to receive high definition signals. Some said the company claimed it would charge 'passage fees' or 'monthly fees' if they hired other companies to do the work.

But Benjamin Tong Wai-sun, executive director of Cable TV, insisted no such fees had been charged, adding that it was up to private house owners to select contractors.

'They don't need our permission to commission the work to other contractors. The antenna system is actually a part of the building's property,' he said.

Meanwhile, he promised the company would provide free connection services as long as the buildings were connected to Cable TV's in-building distribution system.

In the few cases in which a building's own TV network is not connected to Cable TV, the company would also carry the signal to its network without charge, subject to the technical compatibility, Mr Tong added.

'There are absolutely no so-called passage fees or monthly fees for the reception of digital broadcasting signals,' he said.

Currently, the company charges HK$20,000 to HK$30,000 to upgrade a building, depending on the height, structure and geographic environment.

So far, it has completed upgrades for 400,000 of about 1 million households on the Kowloon Peninsula, Hong Kong Island North and Sha Tin, which will be covered in first-phase introduction of digital broadcasts. These areas will be able to receive digital content from Monday.

Cable TV said it had mastered the technology for high-definition broadcasting and was able to launch it quickly.