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Cable TV Nixed on Deregulation Qualms

Hong Kong -- Objections from monopoly pay TV provider Hong
Kong Cable Television Ltd. (Cable TV) to government plans to open the market to
competition have been dismissed by regulators.

Kwong Ki-chi, secretary for information technology and
broadcasting, announced that the Special Administrative Region of China's highest
authority, the Executive Council, had endorsed his plans to liberalize Hong Kong's TV

Cable TV -- which has enjoyed a monopoly on providing pay
TV through its wireless and hardwire cable-delivery system since 1993 -- had objected to a
number of the proposals that Kwong unveiled in September.

The proposals included mandatory interconnection to its
hardwire system for future pay TV providers and the return of its microwave frequencies to
the government by 2001.

In addition, the government dismissed Cable TV's
request to study whether there is enough ultra-high-frequency bandwidth to support a fifth
broadcast channel.

One of the few bright spots for Cable TV was Kwong's
pledge to set up a working group to improve the "bottleneck" surrounding the
installation of wiring into buildings for TV, telephony and Hongkong Telecom's
video-on-demand service.

As a developer and property owner, Cable TV's parent
company, Wharf Holdings Inc., has found it difficult to gain access for Cable TV in
buildings owned by rival real estate companies. Building companies are not required to
provide such access.