The consultation paper on digital broadcasting released late last year drew a surprisingly united response from an industry which is usually marked by divisions. What prompted the SAR's major terrestrial broadcasters, TVB and ATV, to put aside their differences to say no were the strong hints contained in the document that the Government was in favour of adopting a European standard. Now, it appears officials have yielded to the industry's lobbying. It looks likely that Hong Kong will wait until after the mainland has decided what standard to adopt by 2003 and then use the same. This is the preferred option of not only the two TV broadcasters, but also telecoms giant Pacific Century CyberWorks, mobile phone producer Nokia and other industry operators. At present, Hong Kong's broadcasting standards are different from the mainland's, barring viewers on both sides from receiving signals originating from the other side of the border. But broadcasters hope that adopting the mainland's standard in the digital age will allow them to source cheaper broadcasting facilities produced there. System compatibility will also make it easier for them to expand their services into the mainland. Just why officials who drafted the consultation document overlooked the industry's obvious concern about system compatibility remains obscure. Either they were ignorant, or, it has been suspected, they had a hidden agenda of trying to maintain the incompatibility for political reasons. Although many people in southern China have circumvented the incompatibility by installing powerful antennae to receive Hong Kong broadcasts, the practice remains illegal. And censors are still blocking the signals when programme contents touch on sensitive topics. Yet, with China about to join the World Trade Organisation, there are signs the mainland will become more receptive to foreign broadcasts. AOL Time Warner and News Corp will soon be allowed to broadcast into southern China. Although they will initially be permitted to beam only educational and entertainment programmes, it is an encouraging first step which can only lead to further relaxation. Hong Kong will remain separated from the rest of the country in some ways for a long time to come. But it makes no sense for it to have a digital broadcasting standard incompatible with the mainland's, when the long-term goal of the country is to fully integrate with the outside world.