TVB Pearl (無線電視明珠台) is one of the two free television services in Hong Kong that mainly broadcast in the English language, the other being ATV World. Occasionally, it also shows programmes in other languages, including Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Korean (see #Non-English programmes). Established on November 19, 1967, TVB Pearl broadcasts free of charge to over 2.1 million households in Hong Kong. The channel is operated by Television Broadcasts Limited or TVB (電視廣播有限公司), along with its sister channel TVB Jade. During the first half of 2003, the channel achieved an average of 71% of Hong Kong's television audience during prime time viewing hours (7:00pm to midnight). In 1991, TVB Pearl began to broadcast in NICAM, a digital audio modulation system that provides a facility for stereo or bilingual or trilingual audio transmission. With a compatible television, the viewer can receive audio in their choice of language; typically, English, Cantonese or Mandarin. Chinese subtitles are available in most programmes after 6:20pm.
Movies are the most watched programmes on TVB Pearl. The Studio 930 is familiar to most Hong Kong viewers, according to ratings surveys conducted by ACNielsen in 2001. The channel produces themed collections of programmes during some special occasions. For example, the collection Be My Valentine (featuring a series of love movies) is released a week before Valentine's Day, and horror movies are shown at Halloween.
Other programmes broadcast include:
As a free TV broadcasting channel, TVB Pearl is important in introducing drama produced outside Hong Kong to the populace. This includes such award-winning drama series as ER, The Sopranos, The West Wing, The X-Files, 24, Roswell, and Sex and the City. The success of these shows prompted the production of Hong Kong versions of ER (The Healing Hands), and Sex and the City (20/30 Dictionary).
Since the Hong Kong government does not have its own television station, its agency Radio-Television Hong Kong (RTHK) requires the two domestic free television stations to broadcast their programmes and advertisements. One of the well known programmes is Educational Television (ETV) which began in 1971. This follows the Hong Kong education syllabus, serving as a reference for primary and secondary school students of mathematics, the English language, Putonghua, and other school subjects. During the thirty-two week school year, ETV programmes are shown on TVB Pearl from 12:00 noon to 4:00pm each weekday.
Other programmes produced by RTHK are broadcast on TVB Pearl on a weekly basis. These programmes are mainly documentaries concerning politics and social issues, such as A Week in Politics and Hong Kong Connection.
Both ATV World and TVB Pearl are permitted by the Broadcasting Authority of Hong Kong to broadcast non-English programmes for up to 20% of their daily transmission time, outside prime time. In fact, only 12% of TVB Pearl programmes are in languages other than English; 83.6% of those (10% of its total transmission time) are in Putonghua. The remainder include broadcasts in Japanese, Korean, Filipino and Cantonese.
TVB Pearl operates its own official homepage which contains information about the programs shown by the channel. In addition to schedules, this includes featured special collections, highlights of some movies, and "editor's choice". A discussion area called Pearl Club, where audience members may post their opinions about the programs of TVB Pearl, is also available; membership is free. Viewers can also register to receive programme information via email, through the "Pearl e-alert" service.
Partnership with SCOLAR
Since the 2002/2003 academic year, TVB Pearl has been in partnership with SCOLAR (The Standing Committee on Language Education and Research) in a pilot project to promote language education in Hong Kong. TVB Pearl will continue to be one of the partner stations of SCOLAR in launching the "English in the Air 2003/04" project, aiming at promoting the learning and teaching of English through television programmes for secondary school students and teachers. Two teenage English television programmes entitled Road Scholars and Lizzie McGuire are to be broadcast on TVB Pearl in accordance with the project. English subtitles will be provided to facilitate the learning of English.
Partnership with ABC Asia Pacific
Television Broadcast Limited cooperates with ABC Asia Pacific (ABC AP), whose service is managed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), to have a broadcast of ABC AP Australian National news every morning after midnight on TVB Pearl. According to the ABC AP Chief Executive, John Doherty, the association between these two channels can offer a rich and diversified quality programming relevant to Hong Kong and the Asia Pacific region. TVB Pearl also includes a block of ABC AP programmes entitled Good Day from ABC Asia Pacific, intended to help viewers refine their English language skills, every Saturday from 10:00am to 1:40pm. According to David O'Leary, Australian Consul-General in Hong Kong, the ABC AP programmes shown on TVB Pearl would be well received by the Australians working and living in Hong Kong and on the other hand help promote Australian culture to Hong Kong people. Now, in Hong Kong, ABC Asia Pacific also live on Cable TV, Now Broadband TV and HKBN Digital TV 24 hours a day.
TVB Pearl is broadcast through UHF from its six main transmission stations at Temple Hill, Golden Hill, Castle Peak, Kowloon Peak, Tai Mo Shan, and Lamma Island, and two repeaters at Tsuen Wan and Tsing Yi. The Tsuen Wan repeater started service on 22 August 2003, and the Tsing Yi repeater started on 18 September 2003. The repeater were built to enhance reception of TVB Pearl.
TVB Pearl has received a number of awards during the years of its programming production. For example, The Pearl Report: Outsider won a merit at the Human Rights Awards 2002 organised by the Foreign Correspondents' Club, and 2008 Olympic Image was awarded the Bronze Medal (Station and Image Production) in the New York Festivals 2002.
- TVB Pearl - Official Site
- Pearl e-alert registration
- English in the Air project
- Partnership with ABC
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation
- The Foreign Correspondent's Club (Hong Kong)
- The Education Television (ETV)
- Education and Manpower Bureau
- Broadcast Authority
- The press release of ABC AP and TVB Pearl on 15 April 2002