AT 3.45 pm today, if all goes according to schedule, about 2,500 households in Sha Tin will experience the first wave of what is being touted as a revolution in home entertainment. That is when Wharf Cable's eight channels come on stream. For the people behind this project, it has been a long and sometimes frustrating journey. Back in the 80s when the concept of cable television for Hong Kong was first taken seriously, it was thought a service would be in place by 1990 at the latest. This was the view of the potential operators; what they had not taken into account was the fact the Government had barely considered the consequences of cable television and certainly had no comprehensive policy on broadcasting. Delay followed delay as the Government sought to play for time while it thought things through. But all that is behind us. Wharf Cable has got what it wanted and, from today, will be judged by its service. So what can we expect? Some reports suggest that, despite the years of gestation, the operators are not truly ready to provide what they have been promising. If this is true, then Wharf Cable can expect some fierce criticism. Unlike its satellite counterpart, STAR TV, which is not allowed to provide Cantonese-language programming, Wharf has the potential to grab enough of the mass market television viewership to challenge the age-old dominance of TVB and, to a lesser extent, the alternative service provided by ATV. For too long TVB has been allowed to dictate terms on the local television front. ATV, for all its good intentions, has never really mounted a creditable challenge and TVB has grown comfortable on its monopoly. Wharf's limited start-up will not change that, of course, but if the service grows as the operators plan, then Hong Kong viewers can only benefit. Through no fault of its own, Wharf has taken a long time to get where it is today. It can have no excuse if it gets it wrong.