Cable and satellite TV services are poised to grab advertising dollars from dominant local TV broadcasters Asia Television (ATV), and Television Broadcasts (TVB). That is the view of Simon Twiston Davies, executive director of industry body Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia - though his competitors disagree. The association regards a 30 per cent penetration rate of Hong Kong's television viewers as a point from which it can begin competing with terrestrial rivals for more advertising revenue. Pay-television operator i-Cable now reaches almost 570,000 viewers, which represents 28 per cent of two million television households in Hong Kong. 'Although the penetration rate was not as fast as we would have liked [in the past nine years], the cable TV medium is becoming more important for the advertisers, who should not neglect us,' said Mr Twiston Davies, whose association presented its case to agencies at a seminar last week. The cable and satellite television industry body forecast its penetration would hit 50 per cent within three years counting solely on the effort of incumbent players. Mr Twiston Davies believed when the mounting numbers of pay-television households become used to more alternatives, their viewing usage on the specialised channels would increase and it would be followed by a changed pattern in television advertising spending. However, TVB assistant general manager Cheong Shin-keong disagreed, arguing penetration was a different issue to viewership. 'Cable TV's share of the advertising dollar is lower than its share of viewership, which is now at a low single digit,' he said. 'We are not fighting on the same battleground, even if [cable and satellite television] do take away some viewing share on programmes which we do not offer.' However, the real impact of cable and satellite television remained far below the advertisers' expectation, he said. Free-to-air television stations - ATV and TVB - accounted for 95 per cent of the advertising pie last year and i-Cable just 5 per cent, according to advertising monitoring agency ACNielsen Media International. Last year, TVB generated revenues of HK$2.02 billion from local television broadcasting, while analysts expected i-Cable to achieve advertising revenues of just below HK$100 million. That would represent 6.2 per cent of its revenues from pay-television business, with most coming from subscription charges. However, i-Cable executives expected the pay-television services would take some advertising dollars away from the free-to-air broadcasters. Samuel Tsang, chief operating officer of Global Media in Force, the advertising arm of i-Cable, said he hoped to get more than 5 per cent in a bigger television advertising pie in the future. 'But I would like to stress the importance of subscription revenues in our drive to grow,' he said. Mr Tsang also said it would be difficult for channel operators to ride on a purely advertising-supported model. The channel operators who provide the content on i-Cable's platform sell about eight to 10 minutes per hour beyond the SAR market. Advertising agencies said cable and satellite television would offer them a chance of opportunity buying, such as football matches, and target-specific advertising campaigns. Analysts expected the forthcoming much-awaited World Cup soccer tournaments would help propel i-Cable's advertising revenue to HK$160 million this year.