Plans by Television Broadcasts' (TVB's) majority-owned Liann Yee Production to start a direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV service to Taiwan through a joint venture with Malaysia's state-supported Measat have suffered a delay. The partners were due to beam programming into Taiwan using the Measat-2 satellite in the third quarter of this year. Although neither TVB nor Measat responded to inquiries about the launch date, a Taipei-based satellite TV executive said the project was being held up by severe technical problems. Jack Chang, chief operating officer of SpaceTel, a satellite TV consultancy that also has ambitions to open a DTH project covering Taiwan, much of the mainland and the Philippines, said the platform was unable to secure the frequencies needed to reach customers in Taiwan. 'Measat-2 is designed as a country-specific satellite for Malaysia, so the frequencies they use are not adequate for other countries,' Mr Chang said. 'The frequencies they have chosen for Taiwan are not protected by the International Telecommunications Union because they are being used by [state-owned telecom] Chunghwa Telecom on its microwave trunk on an east-west direction. The frequencies are all wrong.' A senior executive with an Asian-based aerospace company said: 'I don't have any sense when they will be starting the service. I don't think they have a signal functioning yet.' In October last year, Measat Broadcast signed a heads of agreement with Liann Yee Productions, which is 75 per cent owned by TVB, and Taiwanese cable TV provider ERA International to establish a DTH project for Taiwan. The project was slated to start in mid-1998. Nearly 80 per cent of Taiwan's 4.5 million households have access to cable TV, making it the most highly penetrated pay TV market in Asia. The TVB group reaches 95 per cent of cable TV subscribers with its popular five Mandarin-language channel service. Measat's Astro DTH platform is said to have about 200,000 subscribers in Malaysia. However, the partners had hoped to use DTH technology to attract customers unable to get cable because of the island's hilly topography. Many of these are in the upper-income bracket, and an untapped advertising and subscription source. Paul Bustin, an executive director with London-based digital TV company Static, said the joint venture was based on a 'flawed business model' and added: 'Measat in Taiwan is speculative nonsense.'