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|Wharf Cable Television Limited|
|Founded||31 October 1993in Hong Kong|
|Headquarters||Wharf Cable Tower, Number. 9 Hoi Shing Road, Tsuen Wan, |
Hong Kong SAR
|Owner||Forever Top (Asia) Limited|
Hong Kong Cable Television Limited (Chinese: 香港有線電視有限公司), formerly known as Wharf Cable Television Limited (Chinese: 九倉有線電視有限公司) until 31 October 1998, is a cable television provider in Hong Kong currently owned by Forever Top (Asia) Limited, which operates it as a part of i-Cable Communications business. It is the second company to provide a cable television service in Hong Kong (the first being Rediffusion Television, which ceased cable operation with the launch of their terrestrial television channels in 1973). It was incorporated on 30 June 1993 and officially inaugurated on 31 October same year, offering a broad range of information and entertainment to its viewers through over 100 pay television channels, of which 54 are directly operated by the company.
The company was founded as Wharf Cable Television (Chinese: 九倉有線電視), incorporated on 30 June 1993.
Cable-based transmissions was launched grand opened until officially inaugurated by the 28th Governor of Hong Kong's Christopher Francis Patten and broadcasts from Kowloon Peninsula until the broadcast area was only limited to Pearl River Delta area on 31 October same year through a microwave-based broadcast system to be followed by the first subscriptions in with an initial bouquet of 8 cable television channels in television programmes such: women's fashion, entertainment, the world's first 24-hour daily of the Cantonese news channel in Hong Kong as the first 24-hour television news service in Hong Kong and Asia, English news, sports, movie, youth teen idol music video and children.
Wharf Cable Television officially changed its name to Hong Kong Cable Television (Chinese: 香港有線電視) on Saturday, 31 October 1998.
In October 2001, Hong Kong Cable Television became the first cable television channel in collaboration with ATV and TVB to carry Hong Kong's live coverage of the UEFA Euro 2004. In later years, it carried live coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, followed by those of 2010 and 2014. It also carried live coverage of the London 2012 Summer Olympics and is due to carry live coverage of the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics.
Having the largest number of subscribers among other subscription television companies in Hong Kong, HKCTV has now become one of the top five media groups in Hong Kong. In particular, HKCTV has a firm establishment in news, movies and sports television programming. As announced in the Financial Summary of i-CABLE Communications Limited of 2004, its sales revenue reaches HK$2,372 million with a profit of HK$296 million.
Hong Kong Cable Television Limited was owned as a subsidiary group of The Wharf (Holdings) Limited, which held 73.3% of HKCTV's shares. The rest of its ownership lies with public shareholders. It became a public listed company in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange since 1999.
Specifically, HKCTV is operated by i-Cable Communications, one of the non-media conglomerates in Hong Kong. The conglomerate manages the first pay-TV service as well as a well-established broadband Internet access service provider with its Internet Protocol network. I-Cable is now the only integrated communications company in Hong Kong. It owns and runs the second largest two-way broadband network which produces its own media programmes, together with online news and other Internet services.
In 2017, i-Cable was sold to Forever Top (Asia) Limited.
HKCTV originally targeted the middle-class subscribers who would be willing to pay for a diversified choice of local and international programmes. Afterwards, it adopted a price discrimination marketing scheme charging residents of public estates with lower prices when compared to the private housing residents. Along with lowered prices, subscribers from the working class can also enjoy benefited services that come along with the combo offered, such as cheaper phone line services from Wharf Holdings Limited and broadband internet access services from I-Cable. Occasionally, HKCTV would use "give-away" marketing strategies to attract more subscribers such as its 12th Anniversary combo; subscribers would be gifted with a DVD recorder upon subscription to their combos. These business strategies have successfully increased HKCTV's sales to over 540,000 current subscribers as well as free news (Newsline Express) on Hong Kong's KCRC Railway.
HKCTV is operated through two separate yet complementary networks, namely the wireless Multipoint Microwave Distribution System coaxial network (MMDS) and the wireline Hybrid Fibre coaxial network (HFC). The combined networks serve 1.70 million viewers, which take up 95% of the local households.
MMDS is a programming broadcast through specific transmitters throughout Hong Kong. Broadcast signals are released from the transmitters to various "dishes" which are located on the rooftops of buildings, and are further transmitted to customers' televisions through the in-built coaxial cable.
The hybrid fibre-coaxial network consists of a fibre optic backbone which forms the base of the whole broadcast centre. It develops into smaller "branches" and penetrates into different areas in Hong Kong along the MTR tunnels, ending in customers' homes through the coaxial cable that the MMDS uses. This network enables high capacity which allows HKCTV to house over 31 channels as well as other telecommunication services.
Taking the advantage of i-CABLE's comprehensive optical fibre and cord network, the group dived into the swiftly expanding Internet market. Its multi-media service center was found in January 1999 to facilitate the development of the second core business that the group eagerly aims to expand. The group started the dial-up Internet service in March 1999, with subscriptions climbing to 185,000 in October 2000. This huge number took up 10% of the dial-up Internet service market. In March 2000, it further developed into a cable modem-based broadband service. This service proved to be successful when the service crept to the local households at an average rate of 80,000 homes per month, resulting in a total of 700,000 homes by October 2000. It is thus not surprising that the Group has the fastest development in expanding its cable modem service in the world.
The high-speed broadband network service was presented after the acquisition of the certification of telecommunications service. Its provision of a 24-hour online broadband network service made the surfing speed faster and steadier than the traditional dial-up network. The outstanding basic service construction and sales tactics successfully made the group one of the two main broadband network service suppliers in Hong Kong.
The visual content of HKCTV provides the platform for the multi-media service unit to develop fee-charging portals on news, movies, horse racing, stocks and adult entertainment.21126888.com as well as HKCTV e-Programme Listing were also designed to provide value added services to HKCTV's subscribers and advertisers. Besides, 21126888.com provides an online platform for its advertisers.
Since 2005, the company have also launched its "Multi-Media on Board" (MMOB) service on public transit vehicles. HKCTV's Hong Kong Cable News Express is the sole airtime sales distributor and content provider to KCR Newsline Express. Instant and updated news are broadcast between the various railway notices of KCR journeys through the use of KCR's Passenger Information Display System, also known as PIDS. This further emphasises HKCTV's theme of providing updated news to its viewers, even when its viewers are not sitting in front of a television or computer. This is also a useful marketing tactic to attract more clients to its home subscriptions after experiencing its instantaneous service. Simultaneously, it gains income and reputation from advertisers for interactive advertising in KCR, one of the most essential transport systems in Hong Kong.
i-CABLE Communications Limited provide broadband internet as one of their services.
Competition and development
HKCTV is the second subscription-based TV station in Hong Kong apart from the 1957 Rediffusion Television (RTV). Before the liberalisation of the pay-TV market, the market was dominated by HKCTV and iTV, previously a subsidiary of Cable & Wireless HKT, currently owned by PCCW. In 1999, the HKSAR Government invited bids to open up the Pay TV market so as to give consumers more choices. The pay-TV market was officially opened for bid in early July 2000, leading to its expeditious development. Its opening also led to the increase in competitions for programming and market shares, as evidenced in the various extensive use of advertising and propaganda.
According to the Hong Kong Annual Reports 2003– Telecommunications, there were four domestic pay television programme service licencees in Hong Kong:
- Hong Kong Cable Television Limited (HKCTV)
- now TV, operated by PCCW VOD Limited (PCCW VOD)
- TVB Pay Vision, operated by Television Broadcast Company (TVB), and distributed through now TV and Hutchison Global Communications (HGC)
- HKBN bbTV, operated by HKBN, an Internet Service Provider of Hong Kong.
By the end of 2003, a total of 130 pay TV channels have become available in Hong Kong. The total number of subscribers has exceeded 860,000. With the entry of new competitors such as NOW Broadband TV and TVB Pay Vision, increasing competition is expected in the future Pay-TV market.