Wharf

New free-to-air station Fantastic TV leaves Hong Kong viewers disappointed over service

Channel faces flood of complaints over difficulty tuning in before Sunday night debut

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 May, 2017, 8:17am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 May, 2017, 4:58pm

Some Hong Kong television fans eagerly awaiting free-to-air television station Fantastic TV’s Sunday night debut were disappointed after learning that its service did not extend to their homes.

Hours before the launch of the new channel, Fantastic TV’s Facebook page was flooded with viewer complaints about the station’s failure to address difficulties in searching for the new channel on television sets.

An option to access a live broadcast was publicised on its official webpage, but this did not work either.

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One comment posted on the Facebook page said the “most fantastic” aspect of the station was that it had launched “but you can’t tune into it”.

The station could not be reached for comment on Sunday night.

Fantastic TV – operating in Cantonese on channel 77 – was formally launched at 8pm. It debuted with a special 30-minute programme introducing shows to be featured on the new channel.

A subsidiary of i-Cable Communications, Fantastic TV comes into existence some two months after conglomerate Wharf Holdings announced it would halt its investment in i-Cable, which reported a loss of HK$313 million last year.

Wharf Holdings had been in talks to sell i-Cable since last year. It was only last month that consortium Forever Top, led by property tycoon David Chiu Tat-cheong, proposed a HK$1 billion rescue plan to keep the company afloat.

The offer is expected to be put to a vote at an i-Cable shareholders extraordinary meeting scheduled for May 29. The company has warned that its pay TV business might need to cease operating if the proposal is not approved, thus making it hard to sustain Fantastic TV.

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Fantastic TV received a 12-year free-to-air licence from the government in May last year. Its parent i-Cable had pledged to invest HK$1 billion in its first six years of operation.

By Sunday night, programme schedules for up to next Sunday had been listed on Fantastic TV’s official webpage.

The station uses a fixed network operated by Cable TV to transmit its service, which i-Cable claims covers over two million households in Hong Kong.

Fantastic TV is one of three commercial free-to-air television stations in Hong Kong.