World Cup games to air on TVB and ATV

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 April, 2010, 12:00am

TVB and ATV will air four matches live and screen highlights from soccer's World Cup, which starts on June 11 - but only on their digital channels.

The free-to-air television stations reached a compromise with iCable to screen the matches. The broadcasters said last night a consensus was reached in the public interest.

The agreement will still come as a blow to many people, because just over 50 per cent of households can receive digital terrestrial television.

The four matches to be aired live will be the opening match between South Africa and Mexico, the semi-finals and the final. Highlights of the 64 matches will also be broadcast. Previous talks over broadcasting games on TVB and ATV had been deadlocked, with the two broadcasters objecting to relaying the entire programming produced by iCable.

Sze Lai-shan of the Society for Community Organisation said the television stations did not care about poor people.

'They just do not understand the reality. Many people in Hong Kong still have only old TV sets that only receive analogue channels,' she said.

Many middle-class people also did not have digital television sets or digital set-top boxes. Set-top boxes enabling older television sets to receive and decode digital signals cost about HK$500, while the cheapest digital television, a 19-inch one, cost about HK$1,600, she said.

'It's environmental protection - it makes no sense to replace an old TV set if it is not broken,' she said, adding her family bought a digital television only last week, after their old one stopped working after nine years.

A Commerce and Economic Development Bureau spokesman said more than 1.2 million households were receiving digital terrestrial television (DTT).

Cable has over a million subscribers, and some private groups have plans to broadcast games.

'The broadcast of international sports should help encourage people to switch to DTT and boost the take-up rate,' the spokesman said.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan said she was happy a consensus had been reached.

Selective viewing

The percentage of families who can receive digital terrestrial television services is just over: 50%