Digital delay for StarHub

Duo will 'definitely launch' cable services in 2004

SINGAPORE — Discovery and News Corp.’s Star TV are going to have to wait to roll-out more channels in Singapore.

Feevee/telco StarHub’s proposed digital TV roll, already postponed for six months, may extend to a year.

“It was StarHub’s original intention to introduce digital cable by the end of 2003,” says StarHub’s senior exec Caitlin Fua. “Feedback garnered from our trials indicated that it would be more beneficial to take a bit more time to increase and enhance the content and application offerings on our line-up, rather than rushing through to launch.

“We will definitely launch our digital cable services in 2004.”.

The reasons for the delay are still unclear, with both technical and regulatory problems suggested.

Complaints surrounded StarHub’s switch to digital, which interfered with free-to-air reception for some viewers.

But the truth may be that it’s not urgent for StarHub to bow digital as it has no rival.

The second feevee license is still up for grabs, which means StarHub remains the sole pay TV player. Added to which, one channel source says digital TV is expected to be only marginally profitable.

The final question remains as to whether there will be sufficient demand for feevee digital TV in a market, that although 99% cable-ready, sees take-up at around 40%.

“We will be introducing an exciting line-up of interactive features and new channels at launch, and we are confident that there will be a demand for our digital cable services,” says Fua.