RTHK plans HK$15.5m upgrade

Broadcaster plans to increase output of first-run digital TV programmes to 1,550 hours in 2020-21

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 January, 2016, 7:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 January, 2016, 7:00am

Fans of government station Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) have been assured a boost in quality and quantity of its programmes with the planned HK$15.53 million project to upgrade existing production equipment.

RTHK plans to increase its output of first-run digital TV programmes from 1,345 hours in 2015-16 by 205 hours to 1,550 hours in 2020-21, representing a 13.5 per cent increase in output hours, members of the Legislative Council panel on information technology and broadcasting heard at a meeting on Monday.

Officials also said RTHK was prepared to take over part of the broadcast spectrum released by the failing commercial TV station ATV from April 2, when ATV’s licence expires.

Director of broadcasting Leung Ka-wing said the system upgrade was essential to cope with the increase in output hours.

“The proportion of overseas-acquired programmes would increase by more than 10 percentage points to close to 30 per cent of output hours,” said Leung, who took over as the new director of broadcasting last August and made his maiden appearance at a Legislative Council panel meeting on Monday to face a grilling by lawmakers.

League of Social Democrats lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung said RTHK should buy more overseas documentaries or educational programmes to broadcast in order to serve a broader spectrum of audiences and those not adequately taken care of by existing commercial broadcasters.

At yesterday’s meeting, legislators also asked the government to offer more support to digital audio broadcasting, with some suggesting switching off analogue AM or FM services in order to force listeners to tune to digital radio service.

Permanent secretary for commerce and economic development Susie Ho Shuk-yee said the government was reviewing the development of digital audio broadcasting.

The policy review came after one of the three commercial digital radio stations, Phoenix U Radio, decided last year to give up its licence because of a weak market. Another, DBC, also had to resort to massive lay-offs last year to keep itself afloat. The third station, Metro Broadcast Corporation, has recently laid off DJs to cut costs.