Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) is about to come to an abrupt end in Hong Kong as its remaining provider, RTHK, plans to shut down the DAB service within six months. The broadcaster has vowed not to fire any staff; five employees are responsible for the DAB services.

A Commerce and Economic Development Bureau spokesman said carrying on would be impractical. The decision was made at an Executive Council meeting that tackled a DAB review yesterday. “In the absence of the participation of commercial operators, it would not be realistic to rely on RTHK to operate alone on the DAB platform,” the review said. 

“The retreat of three commercial DAB operators due to difficulties in their operation and the lack of a critical mass of audience demonstrated the exhaustion of interest in the services.”

A Legislative Council brief published on the Hong Kong Digital Radio website sets out the entire story. 

Phoenix U Radio surrendered its licence in September 2015, followed by DBC and Metro Radio roughly a year later.

Director of Broadcasting Leung Ka-wing rejected claims that it was an attempt to cut down expenses and added the issue had been “deliberated over a long period of time.” He added: “As the government had said, Hong Kong is not a suitable market for developing DAB service. We will try to reallocate current programmes under the five DAB channels to the AM and FM analogue platforms.”

RTHK launched five DAB services in 2012, achieving population coverage of 83%, according to the World DAB forum.