Established on November 19, 1967, TVB Pearl broadcasts free of charge to over 2.1 million households in Hong Kong. The channel is operated by Television Broadcasts Limited or TVB, along with its sister channel TVB Jade. As of June 30,2007, the channel achieved an average of 78% of Hong Kong's television audience during prime time viewing hours (7:00 p.m. to midnight). In 1991, TVB Pearl began to broadcast in NICAM, a digital audio modulation system that provides a facility for stereo or bilingual or trilingual audio transmission. With a compatible television, the viewer can receive audio in their choice of language; typically, English and Cantonese. Chinese subtitles are available in most programmes after 6:20 p.m..
Other programmes broadcast include:
TVB Pearl started producing a new programme known as "Dolce Vita" from the spring of 2006. Dolce Vita is a lifestyle magazine programme that focus on the current happenings in Hong Kong, including new restaurants and interviews with visiting English-speaking celebrities.
As a free TV broadcasting channel, TVB Pearl is important in introducing drama produced outside Hong Kong to the populace. This includes such award-winning drama series as Lost, Without A Trace, Nip/Tuck, The O.C., 24, Las Vegas, and Medium. The success of these shows prompted the production of Hong Kong versions of ER (Healing Hands), Desperate Housewives (La Femme Desperado) and Sex and the City (20/30 Dictionary). Moreover, the ratings on the debut of the Japanese Drama Mother at 14 has reached the highest ratings on dramas on the channel in 20 years.
Since the Hong Kong government does not have its own television station, its agency Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) requires the two domestic free television stations to broadcast their programmes and advertisements. One of the well known programmes is Educational Television (ETV) which began in 1971. This follows the Hong Kong education syllabus, serving as a reference for primary and secondary school students of mathematics, the English language, Putonghua, and other school subjects. During the thirty-two week school year, ETV programmes are shown on ATV World from 10:00 a.m. to midday and TVB Pearl from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. each weekday.
Other programmes produced by RTHK are broadcast on TVB Pearl on a weekly basis. These programmes are mainly documentaries concerning politics and social issues, such as A Week in Politics and Hong Kong Connection.
TVB Pearl operates its own official homepage which contains information about the programs shown by the channel. In addition to schedules, this includes featured special collections, highlights of some movies, and "editor's choice". A discussion area called Pearl Club, where audience members may post their opinions about the programs of TVB Pearl, is also available; membership is free. Viewers can also register to receive programme information via email, through the "Pearl e-alert" service.
Since the 2002/2003 academic year, TVB Pearl has been in partnership with SCOLAR (The Standing Committee on Language Education and Research) in a pilot project to promote language education in Hong Kong. TVB Pearl will continue to be one of the partner stations of SCOLAR in launching the "English in the Air 2003/04" project, aiming at promoting the learning and teaching of English through television programmes for secondary school students and teachers. Two teenage English television programmes entitled Road Scholars and Lizzie McGuire are to be broadcast on TVB Pearl in accordance with the project. English subtitles will be provided to facilitate the learning of English.
Television Broadcast Limited cooperates with ABC Asia Pacific (ABC AP), whose service is managed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), to have a broadcast of ABC AP Australian National news every morning after midnight on TVB Pearl. According to the ABC AP Chief Executive, John Doherty, the association between these two channels can offer a rich and diversified quality programming relevant to Hong Kong and the Asia Pacific region. TVB Pearl also includes a block of ABC AP programmes entitled Good Day from ABC Asia Pacific, intended to help viewers refine their English language skills, every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:40 p.m.. According to David O'Leary, Australian Consul-General in Hong Kong, the ABC AP programmes shown on TVB Pearl would be well received by the Australians working and living in Hong Kong and on the other hand help promote Australian culture to Hong Kong people. Now, in Hong Kong, ABC Asia Pacific also live on Cable TV, Now Broadband TV and HKBN Digital TV 24 hours a day.This partnership ended on 17 June2006.
TVB Pearl is broadcast through UHF from its six main transmission stations at Temple Hill, Golden Hill, Castle Peak, Kowloon Peak, Tai Mo Shan, and Lamma Island, and two repeaters at Tsuen Wan and Tsing Yi. The Tsuen Wan repeater started service on 22 August 2003, and the Tsing Yi repeater started on 18 September 2003. The repeater were built to enhance reception of TVB Pearl.
Pearl is brought in and broadcast by Guangzhou Television (廣州電視臺, GZTV), the state own/run TV Network in Guangzhou. In additional to the already censored programs, GZTV also broadcasts ads during the hours that the Pearl is off air.
TVB Pearl has received a number of awards during the years of its programming production. For example, The Pearl Report: Outsider won a merit at the Human Rights Awards 2002 organised by the Foreign Correspondents' Club, and 2008 Olympic Image was awarded the Bronze Medal (Station and Image Production) in the New York Festivals 2002.