Hong Kong companies eye digital realm

Commercial networks to launch free service

HONG KONG — Commercial nets Television Broadcasts and Asia Television will launch free-to-air digital services on Dec 31.

The two will be the first to use a digital terrestrial television standard developed by mainland China.

ATV and TVB will simulcast their four existing TV channels in analog and digital and bow free channels in standard definition and high def.

Initially, half the country will get the new signal, expanding to 75% before the Beijing Olympic Games in August.

In October, China announced that it had settled on its own unique digital terrestrial television standard, DMB-T/H. The system combines two systems developed by Beijing’s Tsinghua U. and Shanghai’s Jiaotong U.

Dec. 31 is the last date that nets can launch digital terrestrial TV services and comply with the Hong Kong government’s timetable. The analog signal will be switched off in 2012.

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