Hong Kong --Macau is expected to launch a satellite TV
service within the next 12 months after officials in the Portuguese enclave issued a
15-year license to a Sino-Portuguese consortium.
The Cosmos joint venture is headed by Macau businessman Ng
Fok and will be permitted to operate up to six TV channels under the terms of its license
from the Sino-Portuguese Joint Liaison Group.
Cosmos has a capital stock base of $US3.89 million. In
addition to the six channels, the company promised to provide a ground station and a fiber
optic cable TV service. The project is said to cost more than $US129 million and the first
of the channels must be on air by January 1999, according to Macau officials. They did not
mention whether the signals would be analog or digital, from which satellite they will be
beamed or what the channel content will be.
Macau, 60 miles from Hong Kong across the Pearl River
Delta, is due to return to Chinese sovereignty in December 1999.
The move underscores its determination to become a regional
communications hub. In addition to the Cosmos license, Macau will also seek tenders for a
license to run a satellite telecommunications operation and another to manage satellite
uplinking and downlinking.
The state-run Teledifusao de Macau runs one Portuguese and
one Chinese broadcast TV channel. Hong Kong's two terrestrial channels are
universally available in the enclave, as well as free-to-air satellite TV channels such as
the Star TV platform. With only 300,000 inhabitants, it is unlikely that Macau will be
able to provide much of Cosmos' programming requirements.
Portugal Telecom Internacional, China Travel Service
(Holdings), Hong Kong China Intercontinental Communication Centre, China Yuanwang (Group),
China TV Programme Agency and China Telecommunications Broadcast Satellite Corp. are
Cosmos' main investors, in addition to Ng.