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Apart from the use of English rather than Cantonese, TVB Pearl's daytime output differs from TVB Jade's in providing more serious programming, such as documentaries and news, and during peak viewing time it is much more reliant on overseas-made TV series and films. Occasionally, TVB Pearl also shows programmes in other languages (but usually well outside peak viewing time), including Mandarin, Japanese and Korean (see #Non-English programmes).
Established on 19 November 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, along with its sister channel TVB Jade. 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. (For the digital counterpart, multiple AC-3 streams are transmitted for the same purpose.) With a compatible television, the viewer can receive audio in their choice of language; typically, English and Cantonese. Chinese subtitles are available on most programmes after 18:20.
The transmission of TVB Pearl digital TV channel have been upgraded from SDTV to HDTV video format on 28 October 2012 at 02:50.
An entertainment package which shows the latest fashion, dining, beauty, leisure, luxury, lifestyle, shopping and celebrities in Hong Kong. The hosts are usually well-established TVB actors and actresses, employed on long-term contracts.
Movies are the most watched programmes on TVB Pearl. The generic title for movies on the channel was originally Studio 930, as the starting time is 9.30pm, but was replaced by Weekend Blockbuster. This title is familiar to most Hong Kong viewers, according to ratings surveys conducted by ACNielsen in 2001. While most drama programmes air over four nights (Monday-Thursdays), Weekend Blockbuster generally airs on Fridays and over the weekend.
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:
TVB Pearl started producing a new programme known as "Dolce Vita" from the spring of 2006. Dolce Vita is a topical lifestyle magazine programme that focuses on current events in Hong Kong, including new restaurants and interviews with visiting English-speaking celebrities.
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 Lost, Without a Trace, Nip/Tuck, The O.C., 24, Las Vegas, and Medium. The success of these shows prompted the production of Hong Kong versions of ER (Healing Hands), Desperate Housewives (La Femme Desperado) and Sex and the City (20/30 Dictionary). Moreover, the ratings on the debut of the Japanese Drama Mother at 14 have been the highest ratings recorded for drama on the channel in the last 20 years.
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 most 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 ATV World from 09:00 to 12:00 and on TVB Pearl from 14:00 to 16:00 each weekday.
Other programmes produced by RTHK are broadcast on TVB Pearl on a weekly basis. These programmes are mainly documentaries covering 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 peak viewing 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 Mandarin. The remainder include broadcasts in Japanese, Korean, Filipino and Cantonese.
TVB Pearl operates its own official homepage which contains information about the programmes 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 programmes 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.
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.
Television Broadcast Limited cooperated with ABC Asia Pacific (now called Australia Plus), operated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), to provide a broadcast of ABC National news every morning after midnight on TVB Pearl. This partnership ended on 17 June 2006.
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 repeaters were built to enhance reception of TVB Pearl.
TVB Pearl is re-broadcast in Guangdong Province by Southern Television (南方电视台), the state-owned and operated television network in the Province. Due to the media censorship in China, TVB Pearl is not always available in some parts of the Province. For example, in some cities (like Shaoguan), during those times that the scheduled programme's nature is deemed to be "sensitive", the local TV provider replaces the programme with pre-taped videos (such as on STD/AIDS prevention).
TVBS-NEWS "20:00 News" (Daily 05:00 local time): Replaced with educational videos
TVB Pearl is re-broadcast in the city of Guangzhou by Guangzhou Television (广州电视台, GZTV), the state-owned & operated TV network in Guangzhou. In addition to using advertising to replace censored Hong Kong programmes, GZTV also broadcasts adverts during the hours that TVB Pearl is off the air.