Television in Hong Kong

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Television in Hong Kong is primarily in Cantonese and English. It is delivered through analogue and digital terrestrial, cable, IPTV, and the Internet. Satellite TV is not common, although many housing estates have dishes and re-distribute a limited number of free channels through coaxial cables. The dominant broadcaster is TVB and ViuTV.


Hong Kong's television history began with the launch of Rediffusion Television (RTV) on 29 May 1957 (later renamed as Asia Television (ATV)). RTV started off as a bilingual cable subscription TV service but became a free-to-air terrstTV broadcaster in 1973, with 2 separate English and Cantonese TV channels. In April 2016, the Executive Council decided not to renew ATV's broadcast licence and its channels closed.

On September 2, 1958, terrestrial television was first received in Hong Kong after cable television on May 29, 1957 following the launch of Peking Television (PTV) in Mainland China. Broadcasting from Beijing (Peking) (which is the capital city of China) behind the Bamboo Curtain, Peking Television has the largest free-to-air terrestrial coverage in the entire Greater China region. It was also carried on Rediffusion cable system for the wired radio and TV distribution in Hong Kong from 1958 to 1973.

Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) was the territory's first free-to-air commercial station (launching in 1967) and remains the predominant TV broadcaster today with multiple Cantonese channels and one English channel, on analogue and digital.

A short-lived network, known as Commercial Television, opened in 1975 and operated for about three years until its bankruptcy (see 1970s in Hong Kong).

Government owned Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) (a radio broadcaster from 1949) starting making TV programmes in 1976 - to be aired on TVB and ATV and later on HKCTV and Now TV. In 2016, RTHK took over the analogue frequency of ATV and now also has its own digital channels

HKTVE, commonly known as ViuTV started broadcasting in 2016, on digital only, with a Cantonese channel and an English channel.

In May 2017, Fantastic Television started digital free-to-air broadcasting, but after a year they moved their content to HKCTV.

There is also an Internet television and VOD channel called Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV, owned by City Telecom) which was launched in 2014 and can be viewed on smart TVs, set-top boxes, personal computers, smartphones and tablet computers.

Subscription networks

Satellite TV


Hong Kong's soap drama, comedy series and variety show productions reach mass audiences throughout the Cantonese-speaking, and even Mandarin-speaking, world.

Regulatory control

Television in Hong Kong is not subject to China's regulatory or 'content' control and is under the purview of the Communications Authority in Hong Kong.

Digital terrestrial television

Hong Kong was not required to follow China's DTT standard, [1] but the Hong Kong government nevertheless opted to use DMB-T/H (now known as DTMB) as the digital terrestrial television broadcast standard in 2004 [2] (hence rejecting the DVB-T standard originally proposed in 1998 and trialled in 2000). [3] The official start of DTT broadcasting was at 7pm on 31 December 2007 as the first digital TV signal transmitter in Tsz Wan Shan went online.

In October 2007, both broadcasting companies agreed to use the MPEG2 video standard for broadcasting free-to-air channels (TVB Jade, ATV Home, TVB Pearl and ATV World); the H.264 video codec was implemented for all DTT-only channels. [4]

For the audio codec, usual DTMB set-top boxes would support MPEG-1 Audio Layer II (MP2) for stereo audio tracks, and Dolby AC-3 for 5.1 surround sound audio tracks. The official specification defines standard-definition broadcasting as 576i at 50 fields per second and high-definition broadcasting in 720p at 50  Hz or 1080i at 50 Hz.

All major transmitters were completed by 2008, covering at least 75 percent of the Hong Kong population. [5] The current coverage reaches 99% of the population. [6] Full digital television broadcasts began on 1 December 2020, [7] postponed from the originally planned date in 2015.

Starting 1 December 2021, six digital television channels (being TVB Jade, ViuTVsix, ViuTV, RTHK TV 31, RTHK TV 32 and RTHK TV 33) will transit from frequencies in the 600/700 MHz bands to the 500 MHz band to support and boost telecommunication services for applications like 5G networks as well as improving network coverage. A six-month transition stage from 1 April will simulcast TV channels on both existing and new frequencies to smoothen the transition. [8] [9]

See also

Related Research Articles

Communications in Hong Kong Industry

Communications in Hong Kong includes a wide-ranging and sophisticated network of radio, television, telephone, Internet, and related online services, reflecting Hong Kong's thriving commerce and international importance.

Terrestrial television Television content transmitted via signals in the air

Terrestrial television is a type of television broadcasting in which the television signal is transmitted by radio waves from the terrestrial (Earth-based) transmitter of a television station to a TV receiver having an antenna. The term terrestrial is more common in Europe and Latin America, while in Canada and the United States it is called broadcast or over-the-air television (OTA). The term "terrestrial" is used to distinguish this type from the newer technologies of satellite television, in which the television signal is transmitted to the receiver from an overhead satellite; cable television, in which the signal is carried to the receiver through a cable; and Internet Protocol television, in which the signal is received over an Internet stream or on a network utilizing the Internet Protocol. Terrestrial television stations broadcast on television channels with frequencies between about 52 and 600 MHz in the VHF and UHF bands. Since radio waves in these bands travel by line of sight, reception is generally limited by the visual horizon to distances of 64–97 kilometres (40–60 mi), although under better conditions and with tropospheric ducting, signals can sometimes be received hundreds of kilometers distant.

Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) is a television broadcasting company based in Hong Kong SAR. The Company operates five free-to-air terrestrial television channels in Hong Kong, with TVB Jade as its main Cantonese language service, and TVB Pearl as its main English service. TVB is headquartered at TVB City at the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate.

RTHK Hong Kongs public broadcaster

Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) is the public broadcasting service in Hong Kong. GOW, the predecessor to RTHK, was established in 1928 as the first broadcasting service in Hong Kong. As a government department under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of the Hong Kong Government that directly supported by annual government funding, RTHK's educational, entertainment, and public affairs programmes are broadcast on its seven radio channels and three television channels, as well as commercial television channels.

Asia Television Online media company in Hong Kong

Asia Television Limited is a digital media and broadcasting company in Hong Kong. Established as the first television service in Hong Kong as Rediffusion Television on 29 May 1957, it shifted to terrestrial television on 30 November 1973, and was renamed Asia Television on 24 September 1982. ATV operated two main over-the-air channels: the Cantonese-language ATV Home, and ATV World.

TVB Pearl Television channel in Hong Kong

TVB Pearl is a terrestrial television channel in Hong Kong owned by Television Broadcasts Limited. Established on 19 November 1967, it shares headquarters with TVB's other properties at TVB City at 77 Chun Choi Street in Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate in Tseung Kwan O, in the Sai Kung District.

Digital terrestrial television is a technology for terrestrial television in which land-based (terrestrial) television stations broadcast television content by radio waves to televisions in consumers' residences in a digital format. DTTV is a major technological advance over the previous analog television, and has largely replaced analog which had been in common use since the middle of the 20th century. Test broadcasts began in 1998 with the changeover to DTTV beginning in 2006 and is now complete in many countries. The advantages of digital terrestrial television are similar to those obtained by digitising platforms such as cable TV, satellite, and telecommunications: more efficient use of limited radio spectrum bandwidth, provision of more television channels than analog, better quality images, and potentially lower operating costs for broadcasters.

TVB Jade, or simply Jade, is a Hong Kong Cantonese-language free-to-air television channel owned and operated by Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) as its flagship service, alongside its sister network, the English-language TVB Pearl. Broadcasting started on 19 November 1967. It is headquartered at TVB City at the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate in Tseung Kwan O, in the Sai Kung District. Primarily broadcasting entertainment programming, TVB Jade has historically been the most dominant television channel in the region in terms of viewership, with its closest competitor having been the now-defunct ATV Home.

Fairchild TV Canadian Cantonese language channel

Fairchild TV or FTV is a Canadian Cantonese language exempt specialty channel. It is owned by Fairchild Group, with Hong Kong broadcaster TVB holding a 20% minority stake. Fairchild TV has studios in the Greater Toronto Area and Greater Vancouver.

Now TV (Hong Kong) Pay-TV service in Hong Kong

Now TV is a pay-TV service provider in Hong Kong operated by PCCW Media Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of PCCW. Launched on 26 September 2003, its TV signal is transmitted with IPTV technology through HKT's fixed broadband network.

Commercial Television (Hong Kong TV station) Television station

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<i>Educational Television</i> (Hong Kong)

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ATV World Hong Kong television channel

ATV World, was one of two free-to-air English language television channels in Hong Kong, the other being its arch-rival TVB Pearl. Its sister station, ATV Home, broadcast in Cantonese language. It is owned and operated by Asia Television, and was broadcast from the ATV Enterprises Office at 25–37 Dai Shing Street in Tai Po Industrial Estate in Tai Po, which is in the Tai Po District, in the North East region of Hong Kong's New Territories.

Digital television transition Global switchover to digital television

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ATV Home was a free-to-air Cantonese television channel in Hong Kong, owned and operated by Asia Television. It was formed in September 1963 as a result of the split of the bilingual Rediffusion Television subscription service into dedicated Cantonese and English-language services. In 1969, the broadcaster was granted a license for over-the-air broadcasting.

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RTHK TV 31 Hong Kong television channel

RTHK TV 31 is a 24-hour Chinese-language free-to-air television channel in Hong Kong, owned by RTHK. It is one of RTHK's three channels alongside RTHK TV 32 and RTHK TV 33 on digital terrestrial television as part of the latter's expansion. All RTHK TV channels are funded by the administration every year.


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  5. "Estimated Coverage of Digital Terrestrial Television (7 transmitting stations)" (PDF)., retrieved 30 May 2008 (2.08 MB)
  6. "Digital Terrestrial TV".. Retrieved 6 August 2017
  7. "Government to switch off analogue television services at end-November 2020" . Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  8. "Six digital TV programme channels to use new transmitting frequencies from December 1". GovHK. 9 February 2021. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  9. "Six digital TV programme channels broadcast on existing and new transmitting frequencies from April 1". GovHK. 1 April 2021. Retrieved 10 October 2021.