Telecom's backhand has Cable on the run

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 June, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 June, 1995, 12:00am

DIRECTORS do it, chairmen do it and companies do it. It saves countless reputations, ruins plenty of innocent bystanders and is called 'Passing the Buck'.

Cable TV - which is apparently considering yet another relaunch with the slightly more accurate advertising line of 'Sixty hours of non-stop sport! (If yer lucky)' - has decided Hongkong Telecom is to blame for the recent 'blips' in its coverage.

Otherwise known as total breakdowns.

Mid-backhand, Steffi Graf was pulled from the screen and Arantxa Sanchez's fate was but a mystery.

But the real tennis match was about to begin.

The full resources of Wharf were brought to bear in Cable's defence. Huge sycophantic advertisements basically saying: 'Sorry viewers, but please can we still have your money?', accosted the public.

15-love, Cable.

The boffins at Cable said the problems stemmed from Hongkong Telecom's trunk lines linking the station to its transmitters. All highly-uninteresting technical stuff.


Far more interesting to Lai See are the contents of a pre-launch conversation between Hongkong Telecom and Cable TV on the subject of a possible transmission breakdown.

Cable TV was asked if it would like a back-up system to bypass a breakdown which would allow transmission to continue even if the most sozzled construction worker drilled through the line.

30-15, Cable.

'No thanks,' said Cable. 30 all. (Nice ace).

A spokesman for Cable said the alternative offered by Hongkong Telecom was rejected because they were told any fault could be fixed in minutes.

Hardly an adequate explanation.

40-30, Telecom.

Curiously, we are told the system would have cost a tidy sum, almost double Cable's original investment. At the time, Cable was a launch operation with high operational costs and disappointing subscription rates. Costs were king.

For its part, Cable said the alternative was as prone to breakdown as the main system and wasn't worth the money.

Game Telecom.

Never mind, it'll soon be time for another relaunch.

Bad connection BANK clerks come in for a lot of stick, and deservedly so. The poor souls behind the counters at Hongkong Bank get more than their fair share, but for the first time we can reveal why.

A prolonged attempt to get through to the Hongkong Bank resulted in buttons being pushed.

A couple of rings later the veils of ignorance were removed and the caller was face-to-face with the kings of incompetence.

'Hong Kong Government,' the voice trilled at the other end.

Unwarranted FUND management is a difficult job - and Mona Lisa was a man. Take, for example, Jardine Fleming's Japanese Warrant Fund launched in 1989, which promised to 'provide access to the Japanese warrant market, which, we believe, offers considerable potential for investment returns'.

As an accurate prediction of the future, that claim ranks alongside the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, who said in 1929: 'We have finally put cyclical market movements behind us.' The Depression which sent many a stockbroker plunging to his death off the Empire State Building ensued the following month.

Granted, the Japanese market has been having a tough time of late. The warrant fund has suffered accordingly. Between October 1 last year and March 31, the fund's net asset value plunged 56.8 per cent while its ordinary shares came off 54.7 per cent.

For the privilege of providing its professional management services to clients, JF has, for the six months ended March 31, charged a cracking US$151,833 (about HK$1.17 million) in management fees. Nice work if you can get it. About 150 big ones for losing half the money you have been trusted with.

Interesting, then, that this fund commands a performance fee for the managers. If the fund appreciates by more than 25 per cent per annum, JF gets even more.

The question is: Should investors be entitled to a non-performance fee? If the fund decreases in value by more than 25 per cent per annum, shouldn't investors be entitled to a rebate of the advisers fee, in this case, the $1.17 million? Smells fishy CALLERS to the police desperately trying to find out about the recent shark attacks met the famed bureaucracy here head on.

The boffin at the public relations bureau refused to say it was a shark attack, but admitted it could have been 'a fish'. What sort of fish? The police guppy thought for a second. 'It was a shark-like object.'