Free-to-air television still emits the strongest pricing signals in the media market, so all advertising antennae are tuned this week to Television Broadcasts. Hong Kong's No1 TV station will be presenting its 2005 ad rate cards to media buyers and the impact will be felt across the industry. TVB prices are not only closely watched by peers like Asia Television and Hong Kong Cable Television. Even outdoor advertising media marketers will hold off on pricing decisions until they've had a glance at next year's TV rate cards. Sources at the tri-colour transmitter have hinted at a double-digit price jump and smaller discounts for smaller spenders. Some media buyers project a more modest 8 per cent increase. 'TVB creates a nervous atmosphere every year,' a media buyer said. 'They hope to build a picture of keen competition for ad slots. But no one actually knows how big the increase will be until they make a booking.' So how much pricier will our promos be? We'll keep our eyes glued to the screen. displays worth the wait Media Eye notes proudly that Hong Kong's MTR is among the safest public transport systems in the world. It is also a frightfully boring experience. Captive commuters kill their time by reading newspapers, listening to MP3s or gazing mindlessly at the advertisements posted above the seats. But there's light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to advanced technology and the eternal eagerness of advertisers to squeeze value out of every conceivable public space, MTR inmates can now enjoy video commercials when waiting for trains, flash-frame ads when the train is moving, and now: high-resolution projections on the platform glass doors. Until mid-November, travellers will be treated to plasma-screen-quality door displays at five platform locations at Admiralty and Central. Sponsored by HSBC and conceived by advertising agency JWT, the projections offer real-time finance information for Hong Kong's market-minded commuters. 'It is part of our campaign, Invest in Professional Planning,' said an HSBC spokeswoman. 'The presentation of financial data suggests our local knowledge and worldwide expertise.' A 30-year-old mother with a baby in her arms on the Admiralty platform said: 'It is something new and useful to small investors like me. 'But if they really want to help me manage investments, they should provide a kiosk where I can check my stock portfolio.' tom serves an ace When multimedia investment firm Tom Group hired former Bertelsmann Media's China brain Ekkehard Rathgeber as its chief executive, it also insisted he double as publishing division head. Similarly, Tom CFO and serious Serena Williams fan Tommei Tong now moonlights as the group's sporting events liaison, insiders say. This week Tom announced it had aced a five-year agreement with the WTA Tour, the women's professional tennis group, to sell official marketing and sponsorship packages in the Asia-Pacific region. It also obtained exclusive regional broadcast and internet rights. 'We continue to see enormous growth in the popularity of women's professional tennis among consumers in this region,' said the intrepid Ms Tong. Media Eye applauds her for serving up a long overdue course of women's sports promotion. go figure Ming Pao Daily News - one of the oldest Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong - may soon reclaim its reputation as a bastion of tradition. As I've noted previously in this space, its chief editor used to offer fruit to reward those who met their deadlines. Malaysian tycoon and majority shareholder Tiong Hew King would contribute home-grown mangoes during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Alas, the fruit ritual was composted about the same time Ming Pao's share price started rotting away in the late 1990s. Now we hear the paper has adopted a very traditional method to assess its circulation. Reporters have been told to count how many copies of Ming Pao they see on the newsstands on their way to work. After reporters file their eyewitness accounts, management carefully crunches the results to extrapolate circulation figures. It remains unclear how this methodology is viewed by Hong Kong Audit Bureau of Circulations which, incidentally, pegs Ming Pao's reach at 98,592 readers.