ATV - Asia Television Limited

Joint bids the future, TVB says

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 July, 2012, 12:00am

Hong Kong's broadcasters can no longer afford to bid for major international events, and it is in their and the city's best interest to make joint bids, a senior TVB executive says.

Peter Au Wai-nam, assistant general manager of the city's dominant free-to-air broadcaster, said yesterday that global competition for events like the Olympic Games was so fierce that single bidders would find it difficult to win.

'It is getting to be a huge burden for a single bidder, and I firmly believe broadcasters will eventually line up together to make a joint bid,' he said.

Au was responding to media questions after a launch ceremony for free-to-air Olympic broadcasts - capped at 200 hours during the 17-day Games and to be split between ATV's World channel and TVB's Pearl channel.

But Au fell short of inviting rival pay-TV operator i-Cable from bidding for future sports events. i-Cable has been in a dispute with TVB and ATV on sublicensing rights for coverage of the London Olympics.

It all 'depended on the specific event, bidding environment, and financial commitment of the individual broadcaster', he said.

Ip Ka-bo, senior vice-president of production at ATV, was optimistic about future tie-ups among the broadcasters. 'It is a breakthrough this time, and there will be further room for co-operation,' he said.

Events in the pipeline for the broadcasters to bid on include the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil and the Rio Olympics in 2016.

It is reported that i-Cable paid HK$120 million, outbidding TVB, for the broadcasting rights to the London Games. Live coverage of the event will start at 4.30pm and continue until 5am, with breaks for news.

TVB and ATV will take turns broadcasting, but the exact schedules have yet to be sorted out between them. Au promised the selection would be 'balanced and cover the events well'.

ATV will have two 30-minute sessions in the morning and noon - showing Games highlights - on its Home channel.

TVB's Jade channel will screen highlights of the day during its night prime-time period.

Both stations have pledged not to have overlapping broadcasts, to maximise the coverage during the 200 hours - rumoured to cost them tens of millions of Hong Kong dollars in payment to i-Cable.

TVB is sending three teams to London to cover the event, while ATV will send none. Both Au and Ip declined to say if and how they would share the expenses.

The two broadcasters struck a deal with i-Cable over sublicensing on July 17 after seven hours of negotiations at the government headquarters.

That broke a deadlock of more than a month, during which TVB tried to negotiate directly with the International Olympic Committee.

Au yesterday would not rule out extending the agreement in the future with ATV.