Monday, 26 October 2015

HK vibrant broadcasting hub

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam

The fundamental strengths of Hong Kong for a vibrant broadcasting business, namely the rule of law and the freedom of expression, are as robust as ever.

 

This is another year of exciting development for the broadcasting and creative industries in Hong Kong. To quote an example, we are delighted to see the recent joint-venture partnership between Warner Bros Entertainment Inc and China Media Capital to establish its headquarters in Hong Kong to develop, produce and distribute films to the global market.

 

This collaboration is a vivid example to demonstrate how the industry uses the uniqueness of Hong Kong, namely its openness, unique fusion of Western and Chinese influences and international network, to conduct international business here.

 

On the broadcasting front, the migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television has been progressing smoothly. In Hong Kong, we have achieved virtually complete digital signal coverage for the spectrum-based free TV service, reaching at least 99% of Hong Kong households, with around 85% of them upgraded from analogue to digital systems.

 

Our public broadcaster, Radio Television Hong Kong, also launched its digital terrestrial TV with three high-definition channels last year. We currently plan to completely switch off the analogue free TV service in 2020.

 

Regarding the pay TV market, all our three existing pay TV operators have completed digitalisation of their transmission networks and they are now providing a plethora of 391 pay television channels for Hong Kong subscribers to choose.

 

Some of the operators have gone the extra mile and launched innovative services such as ultra high-definition TV, 3D TV and interactive programmes. The number of high-definition TV channels provided by pay TV licensees has significantly increased from 58 in 2013 to 85 in 2015.

 

Broadcasting hub

Hong Kong is a broadcasting hub in the Asia-Pacific region. We are an ideal place for uplinking satellite television services to the Asia-Pacific region, thanks to its excellent infrastructure and pool of talents. Currently, there are 18 non-domestic television programme service licensees, providing about 270 satellite television channels for the Asia-Pacific region.

 

There are also over 400 free-to-air satellite television channels available for reception in Hong Kong. Hong Kong audiences can receive unencrypted satellite television programme channels uplinked from Hong Kong and elsewhere.

 

As one of the freest economies in the world, Hong Kong imposes no limits on foreign direct investment in pay TV services and transmission platforms or wholesale provision and import of pay TV programmes.

 

We have no restrictions on business models of pay TV services such as subscription rates, channel packaging and advertising time. All these contribute to an open and facilitative environment for regional and international broadcasters alike to develop their businesses here.

 

Mobile data usage doubles

With the advent of new digital technologies and availability of higher transmission capacities and speeds, the traditional boundaries between broadcasting and telecommunications are becoming increasingly blurred. The two sectors are converging quickly.

 

Hong Kong prides itself in the mobile penetration rate, at about 229%, which is one of the highest in the world. The huge popularity and ownership of smartphones has dramatically boosted mobile data consumption, and mobile data services have continued to be the principal engine of market growth.

 

Indeed, the mobile data usage has been doubled since 2013. As at June 2015, there were 16.7 million mobile subscribers, of which more than 12 million are 3G or 4G service users. The provision of 4G Long Term Evolution, or LTE, services has greatly enhanced user experience, enabling the provision of a variety of innovative and high-speed mobile data services for consumers.

 

Hong Kong now has broadband Internet access to virtually all commercial and residential buildings, with the household penetration rate reaching 83% as at June 2015.

 

Innovative offerings

Recently, an operator has begun to offer the world's first 10 gigabits-per-second fibre-to-the-home broadband services, which enables smooth display of high-quality multimedia content and speedy storage and retrieval of information through a cloud-based network.

 

To cater for the need of those living away from the urban hub, another operator is rolling out a wireless fixed broadband network to provide higher-speed broadband services at competitive prices to village houses in rural and remote areas.

 

According to the State of the Internet 1st Quarter, 2015 Report published by Internet content delivery provider Akamai in June 2015, Hong Kong's fixed broadband service is one of the fastest in the world, with an average peak connection speed of 92.6 megabits per second.

 

For those on the move, public Wi-Fi hotspots are easily accessible as we have more than 38,600 public Wi-Fi hotspots all over Hong Kong.

 

Creative industry promoted

Television, or the entertainment industry in a broader sense, is one of the major components of Hong Kong's creative industries. The film, TV, radio and music sectors have generated an added value of about US$1.5 billion, accounting for over 10% of the total value added of Hong Kong's cultural and creative industries.

 

A dedicated Film Development Fund is there to offer support to the film sector while our CreateSmart Initiative targets to provide funding support for other creative sectors. The funds available from the Film Development Fund and the CreateSmart Initiative have enabled the trade to champion initiatives to promote the development of our creative industries.

 

Creative talents are the key in driving the growth of the broadcasting industry. We have been sponsoring the Community Outreach Programme of the CASBAA Convention since 2010 through the CreateSmart Initiative.

 

The programme enables small and medium enterprises to attend the CASBAA Convention free of charge each year. The initiative provides opportunities for SMEs to network and exchange views with their fellow experts in the field.

 

As an effort to encourage new blood to join the industry, the programme also sponsors local tertiary students pursuing TV and media-related programmes so that they can gain insights from speakers and participants of the event, getting a taste of what a career in the television and content industry will be like.

 

Content exporter

Hong Kong has a long history of being an active TV content exporter. With the introduction of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or CEPA in short, Hong Kong service providers are given preferential treatment to co-produce TV dramas with Mainland China and Hong Kong artistes, and production crews now play an active role in Mainland TV dramas.

 

In addition, many experienced TV practitioners have established a new base in the Mainland as a result of the rapid development of TV and cable channels there.

 

It is anticipated that the emergence of online and mobile viewing platforms will further intensify the demand for quality programme content and our TV talents could surely benefit from the development.

 

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia Convention 2015.

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