Media & Communication
Radio and TV in Hong Kong
There is no license or fee for owning a radio or TV in Hong Kong. Most radio stations and all Hong Kong TV stations are privately owned. The Hong Kong public broadcast provider merely produces educational, entertainment and public affairs programs which are then aired on commercial Hong Kong TV stations.
Chinese has increasingly become the main language used for radio and TV in Hong Kong since the beginning of the transition to Chinese sovereignty in the 1980s. Nevertheless, there are still a number of radio stations in English, and two local networks also have English-language TV channels.
Radio and TV in Hong Kong: Technical Standards
In Hong Kong, TV sets and other equipment work according to the PAL standard, one of three main technical standards used throughout the world. PAL and its competitors, NTSC and SECAM, are not compatible with each other. While you will be able to operate equipment which uses one of the other standards, it will not be compatible to any equipment you buy in Hong Kong.
Many of the newer apartment blocks in Hong Kong are equipped with cable or a Satellite Master Antenna (SMATV). In this case, you can watch both free and pay TV-channels without having to buy a receiver of your own. The cost is normally included in your monthly management and rent charges.
Radio and TV in Hong Kong: Television Providers
There are two local television providers that offer English-language channels. The Hong Kong Television Broadcasts (TVB) offers TVB Pearl, a channel airing a wide variety of broadcasts ranging from local and international news to children’s programs, movies and lifestyle shows. It also features the occasional program in Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean. The second English-language TV channel is ATV World. You might be able to catch some of your favorite US or UK TV shows here.
The public service broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) does not have any television channels of its own. It produces public affairs programs, which are then aired by the three commercial television channels. Even though the RTHK operates as a government department, it is well-known for maintaining its editorial independence and also being critical of the government at times.
Radio and TV in Hong Kong: Satellite and Pay TV
You can choose from several TV provider services in Hong Kong: satellite, cable, and broadband TV. HDTV is available through terrestrial free TV and is also offered by all pay TV operators.
If your apartment is not already equipped with satellite or cable, you need to install a TV receive-only system (TVRO), consisting of a satellite dish and the corresponding equipment for your TV. Using this, you can receive more than 200 satellite programs for free, in addition to a large number of pay TV channels. The main satellite TV provider in Hong Kong is STAR TV, which currently broadcasts over 60 channels in 13 languages. Among them are many English-language channels such as Star World, Star Movies, Fox News, or National Geographic, as well as sports programs and news stations.
Cable TV in Hong Kong is provided by i-cable Communications, which offers subscription via fixed-price packages with a selection from over 100 pay TV channels. Some of the English-language channels of a regular cable TV package include CNN International, BBC World, CNBC, and National Geographic. Premium packages include stations such as HBO, Cinemax, and Star Movies. The service’s many sports channels are also very popular.
Broadband television is also becoming increasingly popular in Hong Kong. There are 18 free channels, and Now TV, the main provider of broadband TV in Hong Kong, offers you a large number of others, either on a pay-by-channel basis or as a package.
Radio and TV in Hong Kong: Radio Stations
If you are looking for English-language radio stations, your options are a bit more limited than those regarding TV. Two of the seven radio channels operated by the RTHK are in English and operate 24 hours a day. On Radio 3, you can mainly listen to international news and discussions as well as easy-listening music. Radio 4 has less talk and mostly classical and jazz music. Both channels are streamed online as well. Metro Broadcast Corporation also has a multilingual channel, Metro Plus, which broadcasts in Cantonese, English, Mandarin, Indonesian, Hindi, and some other languages. The BBC World Service is available in Hong Kong, too.
In addition to traditional radio broadcast, Hong Kong FM, a local free internet radio station, offers a multitude of channels sure to satisfy any taste.
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