Globe waits for referee's TV call

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 January, 2010, 12:00am

Pubs and taverns may offer a home away from home, but they are not always warmly embraced by their own neighbours.

Last November, the Globe, a British-style pub, left its 14-year home in Hollywood Road for the basement of Garley Building in Graham Street in Central, after its landlord doubled the rent. Now the owners must win over the new locals.

Toby Cooper, owner of the Globe, applied to install a satellite antenna dish on the roof of the building. The equipment would allow the restaurant to screen sports and news programmes, attracting a variety of patrons. But the building's owners' corporation has yet to reply, Cooper said, who thought residents above might be worried the noise from TV loudspeakers would spoil the quiet neighbourhood.

It is common practice for pubs to air television programmes as a way to get patrons though the doors. A pub manager in Lan Kwai Fong said his bar has installed a few television sets and broadcasted sports programmes as a way to attract a diversified clientele, just as many other establishments were doing.

But pubs face an escalating cost to sustain the service because they must subscribe to various pay TV providers in order to receive all the popular games, such as the European Champion's league, Premiere League and World Cup.

Some pubs had installed satellite dish antennae and unlicensed decoders, bypassing fees. But this is risky as unlicensed decoders are illegal.

A spokesman for telecoms watchdog Ofta said that since 2005, authorities had launched 15 operations against the sale of illegal TV decoders, seized 59 illegal satellite TV decoders, and prosecuted 10 people.

And pub owners who do use illegal decoders were likely to be quickly found out by the pay TV operator, who would not hesitate to seek damages, the pub manager said. 'The judge would likely rule in favour of the pay TV providers.'

Wan Man-tim, chairman of the Garley Building owners' corporation, said they were being consulted on the Globe's application and would make a decision at a meeting on January 18.

Wan would not comment on whether property owners were in favour or against the application, saying that no written response had been received.

Cooper said the Globe would be a responsible and law abiding neighbour. 'We are not going to [use an unlicensed decoder],' he said, explaining that the Globe had already subscribed to a pay TV provider, and was exploring subscribing to Cable TV for sports programmes.

Cooper said he only intended to have the television turned on during sport programmes or daily news.

'TV programmes cause a lot of distraction,' he said.