April 8, 2002

Hong Kong Cable Commissions Cutting Edge Digital News Centre

(Hong Kong April 8, 2002)    Hong Kong Cable today commissioned its state-of-the-art Digital News Centre, opening a new chapter for the development of television in Hong Kong as it moves further into the new digital television era.

The Digital News Centre was opened by the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Mr. C.H. Tung, accompanied by the Chairman of Hong Kong Cable Television Limited, Mr. Stephen T.H. Ng.

Mr Tung put Cable News' 5:00 p.m. newscast today on air by pressing the on-air switch in the newsroom, signifying the full commissioning of Hong Kong Cable's HK$150 million Digital News Centre, which is the first fully digitised news production facility in Hong Kong. The newscast was broadcast from a brand new studio located in the centre, equipped with the latest broadcasting equipment.

To mark the opening of Hong Kong Cable's Beijing News Bureau, which also became operational today, Mr. Tung talked to the Cable News team stationed there via a satellite link-up.

Speaking at a ceremony before the switch-on, the Chairman of Hong Kong Cable, Mr. Stephen T.H. Ng, said the commissioning of the Digital News Centre is a milestone for the development of not only Hong Kong Cable, but also for the television industry in Hong Kong.

"We are proud to take another lead in the development of information technology in Hong Kong. We have always been building for the future and the Digital News Centre is another important investment to demonstrate our confidence and commitment to the future of the industry," he added.

Mr. Ng said Hong Kong Cable has taken the first digital step last year when it began to migrate its transmission to digital. Digitisation has not only enhanced the security of its service, it also expanded network capacity and provided opportunities to increase the number of programme channels, thereby enhancing the value of the cable service to subscribers as well as to Hong Kong Cable.

"This is followed by digitisation of our production facilities. Subsequent to the commissioning of the Digital News Centre today, we shall gradually digitise our other production facilities," he added.

Hong Kong Cable's engineering team and equipment and software vendors from all over the world have worked over a year to design and successfully integrate the various operation systems of the news facility. Some of the software and equipment are used and integrated in a live situation on a single platform for the first time. Their successful integration poses the biggest challenge to the project.

Even before its commissioning, the Digital News Centre have invoked much interests from fellow television operators from the rest of Asia who are keen to study our experience for their future development plan.

Spanning an area of 4,000 square metres, the Digital News Centre is equipped with cutting edge digital shooting, editing, production and broadcasting equipment. It converts all incoming video and audio into data and stores them in a central server, enabling staff in different operation units (from reporters, editors, graphic designers, producers to news anchors) inside the newsroom simultaneous access and handling to significantly reduce news production time. The 150 workstations inside the news centre are linked up to various operation systems to ensure timely handling and broadcasting of news items.

On top of supporting conventional television service, digitised news service will also support other applications brought by technology convergence such as online broadcasting, interactive television and third generation (3G) mobile services.

Hong Kong Cable Television Limited is the leading subscription television service operator in Hong Kong. It is operated by i-CABLE Communications Limited which is Hong Kong's only fully integrated communications company that owns and operates one of two near universal broadband networks in Hong Kong; creates its own multimedia contents; and offers Pay Television and Broadband Internet services at the same time.

i-CABLE is listed on both the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. It is a 79.4 per cent subsidiary of The Wharf (Holdings) Limited, which is also listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.