December 07, 2001

Hong Kong Cable Activates First Digital Site
To Usher in Digital Television Era in HK


(Hong Kong, December 7, 2001) Hong Kong's television industry enters the digital age today following the commencement of digital broadcasting to Hong Kong Cable's first site at Ma Hang Estate in Stanley.

The activation heralds Hong Kong Cable's $500 million programme to migrate its broadcasting system to digital transmission which will bring laserdisc picture quality to its viewers immediately and allow expansion of its programming platform as well as interactive television in the future.

The activation was marked by a colourful launch ceremony at the Village Square of Stanley Plaza, when the officiating guests including, the Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting, Mrs. Carrie Yau; the Chairman of the Broadcasting Authority, Mr. Norman Leung; the Director of Housing, Mr. Tony Miller; and the Chairman and CEO of Hong Kong Cable, Mr. Stephen T.H. Ng, inserted a mock "smart card" into a giant digital set-top boxes, signifying commencement of digital broadcasting at the public housing estate.

Speaking at the ceremony, Chairman and CEO of Hong Kong Cable, Mr. Stephen T.H. Ng, said switching to digital broadcasting is another milestone in the history of the station. "We are proud to make another first in the local television history by deploying this state-of-art transmission technology. The step we take today will place Hong Kong in the top league of television development in the region," he added.

Mr. Ng said digital television, with its enhanced encryption system, will not only help the Company protect the integrity of its subscription service, but will also enable Hong Kong Cable to carry more programme channels on its delivery platform with compression technology, further enriching the programming choice for viewers.

"Further down the road when the technology matures, the new digital platform will allow interactive television, enabling such functions as video on demand and transactions," he added.

Hong Kong Cable initially plans to convert about 200,000 of its subscribers to digital service by April next year and to complete the migration by 2005. Existing subscribers will be contacted in due course for visits to change out their set-top boxes.

To coincide with digital broadcasting, Hong Kong Cable will embark on a programme to significantly expand its programming platform. It is expected that by 2003, there will be more than 50 programme channels on the Hong Kong Cable platform which will be increased to over 100 channels further down the road.

In the meantime, Hong Kong Cable is also migrating its production facilities to digital. Infrastructural works for a multi-million dollar new digital News Centre have already been completed and software installation and systems integration works have been taking place.

It is expected that the new centre will be operational by early next year. When completed, the news centre will be the first fully digitised news facility in Asia, enabling significant reduction in production time and allowing new applications such as online broadcasting, interactive television and third generation (3G) mobile services.

Hong Kong Cable Television Limited is Hong Kong's pre-eminent pay television operator, offering a 31-channel service to over 550,000 subscribers. Hong Kong Cable is a wholly-owned subsidiary of i-CABLE Communications Limited. The Company is Hong Kong's only fully integrated communications company which owns and operates the territory's second largest communications network; creates its own multi-media contents; and provides pay television and Internet access service, including Broadband service.

i-CABLE is listed in both the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (Stock quote:1097) and NASDAQ in the US (symbol: ICAB). i-CABLE is 79.4% held by The Wharf (Holdings) Limited, which is also listed in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (Stock quote: 0004).