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  • Sep 22, 2014
  • Updated: 9:49am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 November, 2013, 3:46am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 November, 2013, 3:46am

HKTV ruckus out of proportion

I've been a big fan of Ricky Wong Wai-kay ever since he took on PCCW, and before that Hongkong Telecom to lower long-distance call charges in the 1990s. He is exactly the kind of brash, loud and gutsy entrepreneur Hong Kong needs. So I was as upset as anybody when he was denied a free-TV licence. If nothing else, it would have been fun to watch the arrogant but trashy TVB sweat over not two, but three new rivals.

But let's have a sense of perspective and proportion here. The government's decision may be a bad one, but many activists and critics are just going overboard to invoke freedom of speech and expression, transparency, accountability and God forbid, democracy. If that were the case, the government would have to hold open-door meetings on all kinds of licensing decisions.

Seriously, does it really affect your viewing pleasure to have two instead of three more free-TV stations? Do you still watch local TV? On his license application, Wong made it clear his station would focus on drama and entertainment with minimal news and current affairs content.

Last time I checked, the right to watch more soap operas and reality shows is not listed on the United Nations' universal declaration of human rights. To have more choices among crappy TV programmes is not exactly my idea of quality improvement.

The licensing issue is undeniably a matter of public interest. But to rally over a licence denial with tens of thousands of people and to try to invoke the Legislative Council's powers and privileges to investigate all relevant government documents and communications? The row simply does not rise to the level of seriousness as the Sars outbreak which killed 299 people in Hong Kong or the chaotic opening of Chek Lap Kok airport in 1998, two previous cases which led to the rare Legco powers being invoked.

The local free-TV market is bound to shrink at a time of multi-media convergence, and as more people switch to pay TV and internet-based entertainment. The government's decision may be wrong, but it wasn't unreasonable.

So why the mass hysteria? Quite simply, opposition leaders and opportunists are trying to create another political crisis as part of an ongoing campaign to discredit the Leung Chun-ying administration.

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This article is now closed to comments

dynamco
www.legco.gov.hk/yr13-14/english/panels/itb/papers/itb1108cb4-132-2-e.pdf
blue
"I can think of only one i.e. this is a decision reached at the the lobbying of the existing main player TVB in snubbing a likely competitor. I believe the anger most of my fellow HK citizens feel at this issue is the gross breach of our core value of upholding entrepreneurship in our city."

This is right on the money. This HKTV mess pretty much killed my support of CY. I hope Ricky Wong gets his license.
Giwaffe
None of this is out of proportion; in fact, it is under proportion and very well needs to be bigger. Protesting is the only way for the Hong Kong public to make their views known. After all, the "public consultations" are mostly a sham since the questions posed are typically structured and limited to favor the existing government proposals. Was there a "no, do not implement", in the public consultation for national education or article 23?

It's a reflection of how the people of Hong Kong are fed up with a lack of control over public policy issues in their lives. They are sick and tired of being told what they can or cannot do in their own home. They are sick and tired of "small circles" making decisions that affect everyone else's livelihood. They are sick of the monopolization of power, authority, and the corruption that lack of real control and oversight brings.

At the end of the day, they are sick of the top down attitude where government dictates and people follow. Governments exist because of the people, don't you think?
whymak
Oh no! Another member of the Living Dead chanting slogans of accountability, transparency and freedom? If not top down, how do you do bottom up, mooning? I hope not.
321manu
The government does need to govern from the top down. But its mandate should come from the bottom up, which is clearly not happening in HK right now.
Is there something wrong with accountability, transparency, and freedom?
jgmoreno
The national education issue was blown out of proportion
The article 23 matter was blown out of proportion
The HKTV debable was blown out of proportion
The illegal constructions controversy was also blown out of proportion
These are all nails in Hong Kong's coffin. One nail can't seal it, but a half dozen more will certainly do the job...
321manu
Mr. Lo seems to be missing the forest for the trees. Yes, the specific incident of 1 TV station losing out here in this one particular case may be quite irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. But the flaws in the decision-making process do have considerable relevance moving forward. So indeed, some perspective is important. And that perspective should involve recognizing the principles, and not merely focusing on the particulars.
As for the Leung administration, it appears he's taking that into the crapper all by himself, without the need for any external assistance.
ruthleelsf
Alex, if I may call you, you probably have lost sight of the thorny issues this saga represents.
It represented a tendency towards dictatorial governance that get on the nerves of everybody in town. Watching TV is in fact a rather basic human right (it doesn't even need a UN sanction to recognise); and if such a right is so savagely, absurdly deprived; as every sensible person would have assessed that granting a license to Mr. Wong should have been as easy as sealing an envelop. Given the fact that Mr. Wong is readily a self-declared non-politician with the manifest intention in making good fictional people in actions in the form of soap dramas. What political contention will there be?
I can think of only one i.e. this is a decision reached at the the lobbying of the existing main player TVB in snubbing a likely competitor. I believe the anger most of my fellow HK citizens feel at this issue is the gross breach of our core value of upholding entrepreneurship in our city. It is too unfair. And that is no small matter unto itself.
xiaoblueleaf
Many may recall head of the now-defunct OFTA when telecom was monopoly quit to become head of PCCW. People are expressing their growing displeasure and anger that HK continues to maintain a "small circle" economy (and politics) when the big conglomerates deprive more and more common folks from having equal opportunity while every dollar spent up to 30-40 cents go to pay rent to the same big-biz landlords.
lexishk
It's simple. People are upset precisely because the "more important issues" are handled in the same way as this one. No transparency, no respect shown for the interested public, no apparent process followed, no apparent vision demonstrated. Why should HKers have blind faith in the Leung administration when it behaves this way?

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