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June 2011

Late again

Last year I highlighted the appalling delays on flights between Shanghai and Hong Kong, but things have improved – as the SCMP belatedly reports

Authorities give Cathay Shanghai connections a lift

Surprise boost to air traffic flow shows what officials can achieve with determination, says airline chief

Anita Lam
Jun 29, 2011

The number of on-time Cathay Pacific  flights between Hong Kong and Shanghai has risen more than sixfold in the past seven months after mainland authorities introduced a new air traffic control policy, the airline's chief executive said yesterday.

At a lunch to lobby support for Hong Kong International Airport building a third runway, John Slosar said the improvement illustrated how efficient mainland officials could be when they put their minds to resolving important issues - such as freeing up the mainland's congested airspace.

"One day in November, I was looking at the on-time performance rate for China, and it suddenly went way up, to 65 per cent. A few months earlier it would have been 10 per cent," he said.

"China is interesting in that way: they don't tell us about things [beforehand] - they just happen."

I can’t imagine why Slosar thinks that the change happened in November.  If so, why were things still bad in early-December?   Of course, you might think that the SCMP would have their reporters covering the story and know when things improved...


Pay TV channel wants viewers to pay to watch TV

Incredibly stupid story from the SCMP.  Now TV have purchased the rights to the Rugby World Cup and will be charging viewers between nothing and HK$388 to watch the tournament.  Well, what did anyone expect?

Fan fury as PCCW cashes in on rugby cup

Broadcaster tells home viewers and publicans they will have to pay more to watch code's flagship event

John Carney
Jun 11, 2011

Rugby fans and publicans are angry over PCCW's plans to televise this year's Rugby Union World Cup after learning they will have to pay extra for the privilege of seeing it.

It was one of Hong Kong sport's worst-kept secrets that PCCW had the rights to broadcast the World Cup on Now TV and yesterday the broadcaster said it would screen the tournament, which will take place in New Zealand from September 9 to October 23, on Now TV channel 686, with four deals available.

There is a one-off package fee of HK$388 or an early-bird offer of HK$288 for those subscribing before June 30. Existing customers who just have the Setanta Sports Channel, and not PCCW's full Mega Sports Pack, can pay a one-off HK$198, while new or existing customers who have the Mega Sports Pack can get the event free but only if they extend their current contracts for another 18 months.

Now TV will be running an advertising campaign on its channels from today to promote the new deal. However, critics say PCCW is only using the competition to make some quick cash out of rugby fans.

"This tournament only goes on for six weeks and the first three weeks' play isn't worth watching," teacher Brian Hastings said. "No one in their right mind is going to subscribe for this."

Accountant Denis Browne agreed, saying: "PCCW must think we are all stupid if they think rugby fans here will spend their money on this. I'll just go to the pub and watch the games."

However, pubs will also have to pay a commercial fee to show the matches on their premises. The fee has yet to be announced, but bar owners are fed up with having to pay regularly for particular sporting events like this.

"This is a complete joke," said Noel Smyth, publican of the Dublin Jack in Lan Kwai Fong. "Just to show Setanta Sports Channel that's on Now TV costs us an extra HK$1,000 a month. Now it'll be the same for a competition that will last for only six weeks. It's like PCCW has a licence to print money."

PCCW's Now Sports vice-president, Lai Yu-ching, denied the allegations and said the company had done its utmost to provide customers with the best possible deal.

"Initially we had hoped that the World Cup could be shown on the Setanta Sports Channel free of charge, but this did not happen," he said. "We then had to negotiate with the International Rugby Board. We're unlikely to make a profit, but we were determined to televise the event, as there are so many rugby union fans in Hong Kong."

The 2007 World Cup was broadcast by Cable TV and Lai said that the rival broadcaster had been in the running for the 2001 rights.

"As far as I'm aware, Cable TV also put in a bid to buy the television rights for it in Hong Kong as they know how popular the sport is here," he said. "But our deal proved to be a better one than theirs."


Plain packs

I’m a bit late with this, but good to see that Australia is doing something constructive to dissuade people from smoking:

Ignore big tobaccos absurd fight against plain packs

New Scientist 02 May 2011 by Simon Chapman

Australia's bold plan to remove all branding from cigarettes and their packaging is a triumph for public health

EARLIER this month the Australian government released draft legislation that promises to be a landmark in the global fight against tobacco. If passed, from January 2012 cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco will have to be sold in plain, unappealing olive-brown packs plastered with large, graphic health warnings. The only thing distinguishing one brand from another will be the name written in a standard font on the top, bottom and front of the pack, below the health warning. This is a world first.

The legislation also proposes that cigarettes themselves should be completely plain. That means no branding, no coloured or flavoured papers, no gold-banded filters and no different gauges like slimline and mini cigarettes.

With this bill, the Australian government is sending out an unambiguous message that cigarettes are exceptionally dangerous. Future generations will grow up never having seen the finely crafted elegance of a cigarette box sitting alongside confectionary and groceries in their local shop.


Bad timing

Top work by Now TV. They had the final of the French Open live (and in HD), and they showed the after-match interview with (runner-up) Francesca Schiavone, and then cut away to an advert break before (winner) Li Na got to speak.  They returned in time for several minutes of waffle by the commentators before the presentation of the trophies.

Two points here:

  1. Li Na is the first Chinese winner of a grand slam tennis tournament.  Ever.
  2. The adverts were for other channels on Now TV.

Also, and I know this is not Now TV’s fault, but someone should tell the director that having the camera swooping in from far away to focus in on the server at the start of every game is just not clever.  It’s annoying.


Cheese

The French cheese market in Tsim Sha Tsui turns out to be rather less spectacular than advertised:

Come savor and buy over two hundred types of cheeses at the beautiful Hullett Courtyard, in traditional French-market style–the first time these were ever brought to Hong Kong!

Actually a small room in a small hotel, with a couple of tables loaded with French cheese.  All nominally priced at HK$48 per 100g, which is pricey, but this actually seems to translate into HK$48 for each piece of cheese (even if weighs a bit more than 100g).

No name labels on the cheese (beyond the name of the animal), and generally a bit chaotic, but they do have good quality cheese that is very much fresher than anything you can buy in local supermarkets.