The first Putonghua radio service in the territory began broadcasting last month. The service, launched by Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Chau Tak-hay, marks a new era in Hong Kong - the advent of trilingual broadcasting in Cantonese, English and Putonghua. In his opening ceremony speech Mr Chau said China's open door policy had aroused interest in Putonghua in Hong Kong and around the globe. 'The Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch and Radio Television Hong Kong have always wanted to create a favourable environment for the promotion of Putonghua,' Mr Chau said. 'The establishment of a Putonghua Channel is a great step forward in promoting that language.' Mr Chau said the launch of the Putonghua Channel would help new immigrants, whose mother-tongue was Putonghua, adapt to the environment of Hong Kong more readily. Head of the Putonghua Channel, Benny Ngai, said: 'There won't be a special slot designed for the new immigrants. But some of the programmes will try to bring them history and information about Hong Kong. 'Because our broadcasters are all fluent and accurate speakers of Putonghua, they will help generate a good learning environment for the public who listen to their programmes.' Mr Chau said the Putonghua Channel would also provide the latest information to scholars, merchants, students and travellers whose mother tongue was Putonghua. The service would not only facilitate everyday communication but also consolidate Hong Kong's position as an international centre. The Putonghua Channel will initially provide a daily 12-hour service via the AM frequency of 621 KHZ, supplemented by 100.9 MHZ on FM for the Happy Valley areas. From 10 am to 10 pm the channel will broadcast educational, recreational and informative programmes. In the remaining time slot, it will carry Radio 2's output. Programmes are also accessible on the Internet via RTHK's web site ( http://www.rthk.org.hk ).