DBC fined HK$80,000 for five-day shutdown

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2012, 4:51am

The Communications Authority has fined the embattled Digital Broadcasting Corporation HK$80,000 over its five-day shutdown.

The authority said yesterday that DBC has breached the conditions of its sound-broadcasting licence by interrupting its service between 8pm on October 10 and 7am on October 15. The authority said DBC by its licence was required to broadcast seven 24-hour sound broadcasting service channels of specified genres every day. It criticised the interruption of service as a "serious breach" of licensing terms.

The authority also said the cessation of service went against public expectations over the proper use of the spectrum, which was a scarce and valuable public resource that had been assigned to DBC.

In addition, "DBC has not accounted for the efforts it had made, if any, to avoid the service cessation," the authority said.

The HK$80,000 fine is the maximum that can be imposed on a sound-broadcasting licensee for the first breach of its licence.

The station is running short of cash amid a boardroom feud between DBC's co-founder Albert Cheng King-hon and another major shareholder, Bill Wong Cho-bau, who is seen as a Beijing loyalist.

Last month, Wong obtained a court order that allowed him to appoint two accountants to take over DBC's operations. Cheng's supporters claim Wong's actions are part of a political effort by Beijing to silence DBC.

Meanwhile, DBC's receivers have applied to the Communications Authority for permission to vary its broadcasting arrangements for up to 60 days, in connection with DBC's broadcast of music and re-run programmes for about 10 days last month, and cessation of service from midnight on October 31.

The authority has written to DBC saying that it needs to provide more information and justifications before giving an approval.