I refer to recent press reports and your editorial ('Digital radio must have more support', August 6) on the development of digital audio broadcasting in Hong Kong.
Since the granting of sound broadcasting licences for the provision of such a service in March last year, the government has adopted a multi-pronged approach in supporting its development. To enhance coverage of the service, the government will invest some HK$46 million for the installation of a re-broadcasting system in 11 government tunnels. A sum of HK$3.8 million was spent on a Hong Kong-wide publicity campaign, which includes advertising on buses, in newspapers and on the internet, TV and radio to promote the service.
The licences made it clear that the construction of a broadcasting network to achieve satisfactory broadcasting coverage is the responsibility of licensees. The transmission power level set out in the licences was proposed by the licensees and approved by the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) after detailed assessment.
For the licensees' subsequent requests to increase the transmission power, there is a need to co-ordinate with the mainland to avoid signal interference owing to our geographical proximity. After discussions with mainland authorities, OFCA agreed in late 2011 to increase the transmission power at various stations. For instance, transmission power at the Beacon Hill transmission station was increased by 70 per cent, and that of Golden Hill by 6.5 times. This level of transmission power in general has far exceeded that of FM broadcasting.
It should be recognised that increasing transmission power is not a panacea for reception problems, which are mainly attributable to obstruction by terrain and buildings. The most effective solution is the construction of gap-filler stations. We are pleased to note that service operators are building four gap-filler stations, which should improve the reception situation further upon completion early next year.
As for the broadcast of digital audio in MTR underground stations and private tunnels, like analogue sound broadcasting, it is a commercial matter to be considered by the broadcasters involved according to commercial principles.
The digital service is at its initial stage of development. We hope operators will continue to enhance the broadcasting network and improve the quality of service. The government will continue to provide its full support.
Joe C.C. Wong, deputy secretary for commerce and economic development, communications and technology