Digital radio applicants list HK$1b worth of proposals

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 July, 2010, 12:00am

Investment of nearly HK$1 billion has been pledged by three aspiring investors in digital audio broadcasting, a new technology to be launched in Hong Kong as early as this year.

At least 13 new channels - including a channel for ethnic minorities and one to promote the use of Putonghua - will be offered, according to proposals by the three investors listed in a Broadcasting Authority paper released yesterday. The three applicants for licences are Metro Broadcast, Wave Media, and Phoenix Radio.

While some expect radio listeners to benefit from higher quality programmes with more competition in the market, other critics say the programming of the three companies do not live up to expectations of the new digital era. Former Commercial Radio host Leung Man-to said: 'To me, digital audio broadcasting is a kind of sunset industry. That there are more channels does not necessarily mean listeners will have more choices,' he said, citing news, finance and music programming proposals by the three companies. 'It seems the companies are only repeating what is being done now. Young people like to listen to internet radio.'

But one broadcasting observer, Charles Mok, said he was pleased to see more competition in the market. 'More channels means more programmes and thus sharper competition,' Mok said. 'With digital broadcasting, it opens up more chances for more programmes for minority listeners.'

His views were shared by assistant director of broadcasting Tai Keen-man. 'In some sense, we can make use of digital broadcasting as a kind of narrow broadcasting, catering for the tastes of small groups. Like in Britain, the BBC has a digital channel for comedy,' he said.