HK$140m lined up for AM radio station if licence approved

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, 12:00am

Public consultation over radio host turned lawmaker Albert Cheng King-hon's application to launch an AM radio station begins today, with the application showing it is intended to inject HK$140 million into the project if a licence is granted.

Initial capital investment of HK$39 million will be required to build the infrastructure, and an operating loss of HK$69 million is projected in the first few years, according to the application filed by Wave Media, a company headed by Mr Cheng.

Apart from news, public affairs and music programmes, the station plans to provide 30 hours of programming a week under the theme of a 'harmonious society'.

It is hoped the station will transmit on 810 kHz AM, which the government said yesterday was vacant for sound broadcasting across Hong Kong. The consultation will last until March 17, although yesterday's government statement provided no suggestion of a timetable.

Mr Cheng said the current licensing system, the subject of a court battle over its constitutionality and procedural fairness, had been criticised, meaning it was impossible to tell when a licence would be granted.

'I think the Broadcasting Authority will probably handle this as soon as possible, and will be ready with a report [with recommendations to the Chief Executive in Council] around mid-April,' he said.

'But as to when the chief executive will finally discuss it with the Executive Council, I have no idea. We have no control over these things.' With the station's directors including former education chief Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, executive councillor Ronald Arculli and VTech Holdings chairman Allan Wong Chi-yun, lawmakers have pledged to keep a close eye on the application to see if the licensing system can ensure procedural fairness.

Mr Arculli will have to withdraw from Exco deliberations over the application, while another influential backer, David Li Kwok-po, resigned from Exco this month nearly two weeks after settling an insider-trading case in the United States.

Mr Cheng's application contends the station would have 'the managerial experience and technical expertise, comprising businessmen, investors, professionals, veteran media executives and experts with experience in radio and TV broadcasting, electronic media and publishing'.

The station plans to broadcast Chinese-language programmes 24 hours a day.

New signal

The public consultation on a new AM radio station begins today

The projected operating loss, in HK dollars, for the station in the first few years: $69m