PAY-TELEVISION operator Cable TV has launched a direct dial, 24-hour news service in Cantonese. The station's News-On-Demand service offers Hong Kong news headlines directly fed from Cable News Channel's hourly bulletins to anyone calling a telephone number now being advertised in the media. News-On-Demand is free to callers in Hong Kong. Group marketing communications manager of marketing and sales Max Ho said: 'News-On-Demand is a first for Hong Kong. The service is a computerised operation. It picks up the audio track from our Chinese news bulletins broadcast every hour, 24 hours a day.' The audio track that a caller will hear is the hourly bulletin's signature tune and the voice of the news anchor. Launched a few days ago, News-On-Demand was a result of a proposal from Wharf Cable's deputy chairman and managing director Stephen Ng. From preparation to launch, the station only needed about 20 days to start offering the service. 'It was put together by a team from the management information systems department of our station,' Mr Ho said. There were no concerns that telephone lines would be jammed by callers because the computerised operation had adequate capacity to handle multiple inquiries at the same time. Callers on 183-2998 can listen to the headlines of the most recent news bulletin broadcast by Cable TV on the hour. 'The news headlines in Cantonese will be about three to five minutes and the duration will depend on that particular bulletin,' Mr Ho said. 'It is an easy way of catching up with the news by phone, whether you are in Hong Kong or overseas.' The Chinese news department had a staff of more than 400, including production crew, Mr Ho said. Cable News Channel, the network's Chinese channel, operates round-the-clock. It broadcasts live and is an all-news service. The channel beamed 17 hours of news and was supplemented by other programmes that included news analysis, documentaries and discussions, Mr Ho said. It is one of 12 channels now available to subscribers of Cable TV. Among the 12 channels are, Cable Entertainment, Cable Sports/ESPN, Cable Learning, Cable Movie, Cable International and Wharf Cable/CNNI and BBC. Mr Ho said Cable TV, which celebrated its first anniversary last month, would be strengthening its customer services and adding more channels next year. He said there were more than 100,000 subscribers for Cable TV. 'At the same time, there are about 800,000 households that are hooked up,' Mr Ho said. That meant all these households in Hong Kong were 'cable ready', he said. He said, at first, the network concentrated on densely populated areas where it targeted public housing estates. Now, the network was concentrating on hooking up big private housing estates. Cable TV subscribers pay $198 a month. Service charges for the 12-channel package include a cash deposit for the converter for which public housing estate residents pay $300 and private housing residents pay $500. As Cable TV intensifies efforts to lure more subscribers, it recently launched a three-tier advertising campaign. The promotional push created by DDB Needham Worldwide Advertising would create a general awareness of Cable TV in the first stage. The second tier involves establishing an image and positioning individual channels of the station. In the third tier, different programmes would be promoted to demonstrate quality and variety offered to subscribers by Cable TV. Advertising in the first tier includes commercials on ATV, radio spots, cinema commercials, MTR hoardings and ads on four trams.