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The Hong Kong Office of the Telecommunications Authority will work with Asia Television Ltd. (ATV) and Television Broadcasts Limits (TVB) to ensure "the timely and smooth launch of digital services next year." Marion Lai, deputy secretary for commerce, industry and technology, says a smooth transition is the bureau's priority. "With more content on the digital platform, better reception quality and new high-definition TV services, we believe that consumers in Hong Kong will readily acquire the products to reap the benefits of digital TV.

"We need to raise public awareness of the advent of digital TV broadcasting to ensure a smooth digital switchover," Lai said. "We will also collaborate with the industry to disseminate information about digital TV, work out plans to promote consumer take up, and ensure a smooth analogue switch off at a later stage."

ATV has committed to spend more than $400 million until 2009 to provide a hybrid HDTV and multichannel digital service. TVB has committed the same amount for an HDTV channel with at least 14 hours per day of HDTV programming starting at the end of 2007.

By 2007, both ATV and TVB will begin simulcasting existing programming in analog and digital and will launch new digital services on the extra channel assigned to them. By 2008, both networks will extend digital coverage to 75 percent of Hong Kong. Hong Kong plans to adopt the European DVB-T digital terrestrial standard if Mainland China has not adopted a national standard by the end of this year. Subject to the results of market and technical studies, the government plans to ask ATV and TVB to switch off analog broadcasting within five years after the simulcast begins -- in 2012 if the simulcasting begins on schedule.

For additional information on the Hong Kong DTV transition, visit its new Web site.