City Telecom set for licence to thrill
One of the three applicants for licences for new free-to-air television services believes it can win over a third of Hong Kong's viewers.
Ricky Wong Wai-kay, chairman of Hong Kong-based City Telecom, which is expected to receive the licence within months, said yesterday he had already recruited more than 300 staff and expected to start shooting its own drama series in March.
He aims to recruit a further 700 staff by the end of the year and have a total of 1,760 staff next year.
'The number of staff and the amount of programming we're going to produce would be equal to that of a major broadcaster,' he said at RTHK's Lunar New Year celebration.
Hong Kong's existing television stations make HK$3 billion profit a year from advertising - the lion's share going to the two existing free channels, TVB and ATV.
Wong believes the market is big enough to support newcomers.
Responding to claims that a new TV station would have to seize 30 per cent of the audience to be any competition, Wong said: 'I hope our viewership will be over 30 per cent.'
TVB general manager Cheong Shin-keong said the station was confident of maintaining its status as the market leader.
'We are a long way ahead of second position and we're not afraid of challenges,' he said.
He said the company would be investing more in training and would be recruiting some fresh faces. And if wages had to go up to retain Hong Kong talent, then TVB was prepared to pay more.
The government had said the free-to-air television licence applications would be vetted early in the year and it is believed the Broadcasting Authority has done just that.
But Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and the Executive Council have yet to approve the candidates.
The two other applicants expecting to be granted the licences are Fantastic Television Limited and Hong Kong Television Entertainment Company Limited.
Cable TV yesterday urged the government to speed up screening the applications, saying further delays risked denying viewers live coverage of the London Olympics.
Stephen Ng Tin-hoi, chairman and CEO of i-Cable Communications, said: 'If the Executive Council can approve the application shortly, the government can probably issue licences in three or four months. Fantastic Television can still start operating in time before the opening of the London Olympics.'
Fantastic TV is a subsidiary of i-Cable Communications, which is the official broadcaster of the Olympics in Hong Kong.
Amount, in HK dollars, that City Telecom is believed to be investing in its new station free-to-air station