Two new 24-hour channels to compete for Asian ads

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HONG KONG -- Two new 24-hour adsupported satellite channels are set to compete for Asia's dwindling TV ad revenue. The first, TVB Channel 8, was launched August 9. The second, the Mandarin-language TVB Xing He drama channel, follows toward the end of this year.

TVB Channel 8 offers entertainment news, music and variety programming, and targets Mandarin speakers of all age groups. Original productions will be supplemented by TVB library product.

The service will be broadcast free-to-air for one month to familiarize cable operators and viewers with its content. It will then be digitally compressed and encrypted for distribution via authorized pay-TV outlets.

No distribution deals have been signed so far. The deputy general manager of TVB's international arm TVBI, Bernard Cheung, says the company is negotiating with all the major players in the region.

Both channels are part of the new Hong Kong-based Galaxy International Broadcasting Ltd., which is wholly owned by Hong Kong-based terrestrial broadcast network TVB.

If Galaxy follows Hong Kong broadcasting regulations, the channel will be allowed to carry up to 10 minutes of advertising per hour.

Although TVB has an extensive network of programming contacts in the region, this is the first time the company has embarked on a satellite project of this magnitude.

The Galaxy operation will draw heavily on the infrastructure and facilities of its parent company TVB, which is the foremost Chineselanguage TV program producer in the world.

In Hong Kong, TVB routinely attracts 70% or more audience share against rival Asia Television Ltd. (ATV). It also takes a lion's share of the advertising revenue. TVB produces about 600 hours of original TV drama a year and about 6,000 hours of regular TV programming.

Copyright August 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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