Finally, some Hong Kong broadcasters realized that the city also has non-Cantonese speakers who wish to watch local TV broadcast. As you start viewing selected drama series at TVB Jade this week, you’ll notice Chinese and English subtitles for the first time. Thanks partly to TVB’s adoption of digital broadcasting, we don’t necessarily have to look beyond these Chinese channels to enjoy watching television. In the past, I only see English subtitles for news broadcasts of TVB Pearl and ATV World. And a spokesman for TVB admitted that the previous analog TV system was the reason why English subtitles was not possible in the past.

Hong Kong movies exported elsewhere have Chinese and English subtitles, but as most of local viewers are Chinese speakers, English subtitles were merely privileges rather than rights of other residents wishing to watch these Chinese dramas. This additional feature was launched in time for TVB’s 43rd anniversary as a broadcaster.

For now, current hit series No Regrets, produced by veteran TV producer Tim Lee, may be our first foray into immersing ourselves further into the Hong Kong TV drama culture.

Crime thriller Gun Metal Grey, which will premiere on November 1, will be the next TV program to be aired with English subtitles.

For locals more comfortable watching Chinese language dramas, putting English subtitles on English-language programs also makes sense, as those who wish to learn more English may understand the language better through these subtitles.

TV broadcasters are required to use subtitles for news, weather and other emergency announcements. English subtitles for English educational programs on English channels while Chinese subtitles are required for all programs aired between 7pm and 11pm on Chinese TV channels.

While this move by TVB is not expected to generate significant addition of televiewers. But it may bring good news to household workers who have otherwise limited opportunities for entertainment at home. Domestic helpers may now enjoy these Chinese shows now that English subtitles are available. One could only wish TVB’s rival ATV would do the same.