The Communications Authority ("CA") today (9 February 2017) announced that it has, at the request of Fantastic Television Limited ("Fantastic TV"), put on hold the processing of Fantastic TV's application for using spectrum, on top of fixed network, as an additional means of transmission for the delivery of its domestic free television programme ("free TV") service ("the Application"), until such time when Fantastic TV is ready to resume its discussion with the CA following the launch of its free TV service.
"Accordingly, Fantastic TV will, as per its free TV licence, launch its free TV service by 30 May 2017 by means of a fixed network," said a CA spokesman.
By way of background, the Government formally granted a licence to Fantastic TV on 31 May 2016 for the provision of free TV service in Hong Kong by using a fixed network1. Fantastic TV is required to provide a Chinese channel by 30 May 2017 and an English channel by 30 May 2018.
In June 2016, Fantastic TV applied to the CA under its free TV licence to use spectrum, on top of a fixed network, to transmit its licensed free TV service. In line with the programme requirements2 imposed on and the investment commitments made by the other two spectrum-based free TV licensees, namely, Television Broadcasts Limited and HK Television Entertainment Company Limited ("HKTVE"), the CA advised Fantastic TV of such similar requirements with which it should comply in order to ensure that, Fantastic TV, if permitted by the CA to use spectrum as an additional transmission means, would operate on a level playing field as the other spectrum-based free TV licensees. The CA adopted the same approach in handling the application of HKTVE to use spectrum, on top of fixed network, as an additional transmission means3 in early 2016.
After rounds of exchanges with the CA, Fantastic TV indicated in its latest submission in January 2017 that its current focus was to launch the free TV service by using a fixed network and that the discussion with the CA on the Application would only resume after the service launch.
In view of the above, the CA has put on hold the processing of Fantastic TV's Application as per its request. The CA is prepared to resume the processing work as and when Fantastic TV is ready to resurrect the discussion with the CA on the additional requirements in relation to its request for spectrum assignment.
Fantastic TV will make use of HKCTV's fixed network to deliver its licensed free TV service upon service launch by 30 May 2017. According to Fantastic TV, residents of buildings with the in-building coaxial cable distribution system installed by HKCTV can receive the signals of Fantastic TV. For buildings with their own communal aerial broadcast distribution ("CABD") systems, their building management offices ("BMOs") or incorporated owners ("IOs") need to engage contractors to interconnect their buildings' CABD systems with HKCTV's fixed network. Residents of the buildings would be able to receive Fantastic TV's service via their TV sets and digital terrestrial television set-top boxes upon completion of the said interconnection. Members of the public could visit Fantastic TV's website to check whether their buildings are within the reach of HKCTV's fixed network and approach their BMOs/IOs to enquire about the interconnection status.
9 February 2017
Under its free TV licence, Fantastic TV has committed to using the fixed network operated by Hong Kong Cable Television Limited ("HKCTV") to transmit its licensed free TV service. On top of HKCTV's fixed network, Fantastic TV has also proposed to employ the microwave multipoint distribution system platform of HKCTV to deliver its licenced free TV service.
The conditions of Fantastic TV's current free TV licence are premised upon the use of a fixed network as its transmission means. Specifically, the programme requirements imposed on Fantastic TV (such as the positive programme and subtitling requirements) are the same as those that applied to Television Broadcasts Limited ("TVB") before the mid-term review of its previous licence in 2010. Such requirements are less onerous than those currently apply to TVB and HKTVE which employ spectrum as a means of transmission for their free TV services.
The CA approved in January 2016 HKTVE's application for using spectrum as an additional transmission means following its agreement to comply with all the additional conditions the CA imposed which were pertinent to spectrum assignment.