C&W HKT, Star TV Form Net TV Venture, Plan Listing

Cable & Wireless HKT and News Corp.’s Star TV revealed a powerful joint venture to deliver Internet television in Hong Kong and throughout Asia.

Challenging Hong Kong’s Cable TV and Pacific Century’s planned Internet TV service, the venture will leverage Star TV’s content and pan-Asian satellite coverage and C&W HKT’s broadband network and operating interactive televisions service, iTV.

According to both companies, the new services provide access to an extensive choice of interactive home entertainment, including 50 television channels, video-on-demand, broadband Internet access, online shopping, and various other e-commerce applications and information services.

The companies plan to roll out the new services initially in Hong Kong next year, subject to the granting of a pay television license by the Hong Kong Government.

C&W HKT will own 60 percent of the venture while Star will have 40 percent, the telecom has an option to increase its stake to 70 percent by gaining US$300 million in shares.

To fund operation and expansion into China and other parts of Asia, the venture will seek listings in Hong Kong and in New York.

Linus Cheung, Chief Executive of Cable & Wireless HKT, said that the company brings together the strengths of the News Corporation and Cable & Wireless groups in the fields of media and communications.

“We plan to launch services as soon as possible next year,” added Cheung. “We believe the Hong Kong SAR Government will recognize the benefits to consumers of our world leading development of entertainment and information services and also welcome the introduction of real competition to the pay television market in Hong Kong.”

“News Corporation is actively extending our business interest from the traditional media into the world of new media,” Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation, said. “I am pleased with the announcement today, which represents New Corp’s strategic move, through STAR TV, in that direction in Asia.”

According to C&W HKT, the telecom has 389,000 dial-up subscibers, 22,000 broadband Internet access customers, and 89,000 iTV customers in Hong Kong. The company claims that its consumer portal, Nevigator.com, receives nearly 5 million page views daily.

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