Twenty-five years as the voice of multichannel TV

The Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) was established in Hong Kong on 28 May 1991.

In April 1990, a Chinese Long March 3 rocket launched the Hughes HS376 refurbished Westar VI satellite as AsiaSat-1 from Xichang, Szechuan in China. China International Trust and Investment Corp, Cable & Wireless of Britain and Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa, jointly owned Asia Satellite Telecommunications (AsiaSat), making it Asia’s first privately owned satellite company. By distributing signals via C-band TVRO dishes across 53 countries, regional broadcasting in Asia became possible.

In December 1990, the Hong Kong government granted a licence to HutchVision, Hutchison Whampoa’s satellite broadcasting arm, to uplink five channels to AsiaSat-1 from Hong Kong. In a reported US$300 million venture, Satellite Television Asia Region (Star TV), began transmissions in August 1991. In July 1993, News Corp. bought a 63.6% stake in Star TV for a reported US$525 million, forming a partnership with business tycoon Li Ka-shing, whose family controlled the original company. In July 1995, News Corp. paid an additional US$346 million for the remaining 36.4% of Star TV.

At this time Star TV transmitted five 24-hour channels, including Viacom’s MTV Asia, the BBC World Service Television (WSTV), Prime Sports (a joint venture with the Denver-based Prime Network), entertainment programming via Star Plus, and a Mandarin-language channel.

Meanwhile, other multinational broadcasters were entering the Asia market including HBO Asia, Turner International’s CNN, and ESPN. These companies, along with AsiaSat, Star TV and Discovery Networks, were among the founders of CASBAA.