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Sat, Dec 06, 2003 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Broadcasting

HK plans digital TV licenses

Hong Kong plans to issue permits allowing as many as four digital television broadcasters to challenge the city's free-to-air duopoly of Television Broadcasts Ltd and Asia Television Ltd. The licenses are part of the government's plan to introduce digital broadcasting technology, which transmits programs at higher resolution using less airwaves than the current analogue standard. Television Broadcasts and Asia Television will be asked to start broadcasting digital programs in 2006, the government said in a statement. The licenses will "provide opportunities for newcomers to enter the market, provide a business-friendly environment," the statement said. The government today began a three-month consultation to seek views from the industry and the public.

■ Automobiles

Toyota pulls Chinese ads

Japan's Toyota Motor Corp pulled two magazine ads in China after local readers complained they insulted the country, the company said yesterday, the latest gaffe by a Japanese firm in China. Toyota, which apologized publicly for any offence it may have caused, ran two advertisements for its Land Cruiser and Prado sport utility vehicle models. One featured a Land Cruiser towing a truck that bore a striking resemblance to a Chinese military vehicle. A second showed a stone lion -- a traditional Chinese authority symbol -- saluting a Prado, which translates into "heavy-handed." State newspapers said readers had protested the pictures implied Japanese vehicles were more hardy than Chinese military equipment, or that Japanese products were superior to Chinese.

■ Music Industry

Virgin opens megastore

Signaling a fight back against the growing threat of online music, Richard Branson, the head of the Virgin chain of companies, has unveiled a new megastore in San Francisco, where sex toys, clothes and electronics feature almost as prominently as CDs and DVDs. Customers entering the refurbished store in the trendy Californian city now see an array of clothing racks, rows of US$70 Hello Kitty backpacks, a pair of motorcycles on the second floor and an electronics section packed with MP3 music players and mobile phones. Of course there are expanded sections for DVDs and CDs, including an innovative system that lets users listen to 30-second clips of any album by scanning the bar code. They can also download clips onto their own memory cards at specially designed stations.

■ Outsourcing

Asia ranks high on survey

Asia emerged high on the list of global financial services firms as a region for outsourcing their business functions, a survey said yesterday. Senior executives from 123 financial services institutions took part in the on-line poll conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Economic Intelligence Unit. Some 47 percent picked China, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and India as areas where they expect to expand outsourcing activities. In terms of business functions to be outsourced, IT infrastructure and applications, 75 percent, human resources and training, 42 percent, and customer contact centers, 39 percent, were the top three functions identified. Firms rated outsourcing as far more effective than mergers and acquisitions at cutting costs.

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