• Tue
  • Sep 23, 2014
  • Updated: 8:25am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 October, 2013, 12:12am

Denial of licence for Ricky Wong's HKTV sorriest episode in free-TV saga

Greg So Kam-leung had more than two years to defuse a political time bomb by coming up with an equitable decision on granting new free-TV licences and giving a reasonable explanation for it. Yet he failed miserably this week, and as a result more than a quarter of a million people expressed support for an online campaign against his decision. It's hard to screw up an official announcement this badly even if you try.

Thanks to the commerce chief, we have just seen revealed how our government really operates: favour the companies of established tycoons, undermine the investment and creative efforts of independent entrepreneurs, and exercise excessive state interference while claiming to open up an over-regulated, monopolistic market.

So duly announced two new licences will go to subsidiaries of PCCW and i-Cable, companies controlled respectively by Richard Li Tzar-kai, younger son of Hong Kong's most powerful businessman, Li Ka-shing, and Wharf supremo Peter Woo Kwong-ching, a former chief executive candidate. Left out in the cold is Hong Kong Television Network, led by Ricky Wong Wai-kay, the loud and brash entrepreneur who helped shake up the city's telecom and broadband industries.

Perhaps the government is too afraid he might do the same to the TV industry. In his announcement, So mentioned repeatedly the need to introduce new TV operators "in a gradual and orderly manner", a phrase he borrowed from the government's playbook on democratic reform. God forbid we have an operator that produces game-changing hit series and disruptive technologies.

So made much of financial stability. But we are not talking about too-big-to-fail banks. So what if a broadcaster goes under? Viewers will have fewer crappy soap operas to watch! No real explanation was given why HKTV was rejected when it has disclosed the most to the public about its finances - HK$900 million invested so far - and operations, such as the number of hours of original production and overseas programme purchases. We know next to nothing about the other two rivals.

This government is always complaining about Hong Kong losing its competitive edge. Guess who is to blame.


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This article is now closed to comments

Spending 900 Millions before a license is issued, never before a business would operate in such a way. HKTV must have a business plan with a business case submitted to the authority. I am most interested to know that part of their plan regarding projected income from advertisements and other sources against their outlays in capital and operating costs. The question is should we allow a cowboy to enter into the market to stir it up with whistles and bells, then in a few years time, it just got busted and all the people of HK got disappointed. I don't think the matter is political because CATV and NowTV and their networks behind have not been friendly to the government and the institutions all along.
As mentioned in the article, there's no big deal if a broadcaster go under. We aren't talking about a too-big-to-fail bank. So why should we care about the business plan of a "cowboy trying to stir up the market"? This is how entrepreneurship and free market works. And it should be encouraged. Unless there is a hidden agenda behind the scene to protect the existing operators - TVB and more importantly the **** communist propaganda machinery, ATV.
duffer list
Wow. I'm actually agreeing with Alex Lo.
I have a revolutionary idea. Let the new station onto the market and if it does well, it will pull viewers. If it doesn't, then it will fail for lack of advertising. That's how free markets are supposed to function.
No second, third and fourth thoughts by regulators are necessary, so long as there is radio frequency available for new broadcasters.
That this simple little argument hasn't seen the light of day as yet is worrisome, because it indicates how used to control by a few business oligarchs Hong Kong has become. The most important playing fields are all tilted.
Well said Mr Lo! Crony capitalism in its full glory.
Mr So another fine example of the lack of talent in our Government. We are so badly served by incompetent Ministers and Principal Secretaries - all of whom are grossly grosslyoverpaid!
hard times !
Agree with Alex Lo that our SAR administration led by this C.Y.Leung has to be blamed for the loss of our most precious competitiveness edge---creativity and the passion to explore new fields plus aggressive attitude in reaching our set goals.What Hong Kong most needs now is someone like HKTV's head,Mr.Ricky Wong who was not given a chance for him to run a free-to-air TV station due to his extreme aggression ? What a pity /shame it is !
"This government is always complaining about Hong Kong losing its competitive edge. Guess who is to blame."
How incredibly clever is it.
Is Li Tzar-kai the fellow who falsified his academic credentials? Another black mark for us.
I would say that HKers deserve what they get but they really don't as they have no say in virtually anything that affects their daily lives.
Business as usual in the SAR...
Business as usual in Hong Kong. Just who are these ministers accountable to? Certainly not the people of HK.


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