Four in five Hongkongers want more free television stations

Two surveys find Hongkongers unhappy with existing programmes and delay in new licences

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2012, 4:41am

More than four out of five Hongkongers want to see more free television stations, saying they are unhappy with existing programme quality, two university surveys suggest.

Poll respondents were also displeased with the government's delay in issuing new licences for free television.

The findings were revealed as ATV continued its opposition to the prospect of facing more rivals. Last night, it launched an attack on one licence applicant, City Telecom (CTI) boss Ricky Wong Wai-kay, describing him as a "telecommunications demon".

Both polls ended on the day ATV staged a live broadcast of its protest outside the government headquarters in Admiralty.

"If the surveys had been conducted after ATV's protest, more than 85 per cent would've supported more television stations," Baptist University journalism professor To Yiu-ming said.

"The landslide opinion already sends a very clear message. If the Leung Chun-ying government does not issue new free-television licences, he is going against public opinion."

In a Chinese University poll conducted between October 31 and November 11, nearly 76 per cent of 948 respondents backed the issuing of more licences.

A University of Hong Kong survey commissioned by the Community Development Initiative think tank found support from 85 per cent of 525 people. The survey took place from November 8 to 11.

More than seven out of 10 told HKU that they were discontented with the licensing delay. One in four believed political reasons were behind the delay, but one in five believed it was a result of commercial considerations, such as efforts to protect the interests of ATV and TVB.

The government has denied any political motives, saying it has been following stipulated procedures.

Meanwhile, the ATV rally prompted 2,100 complaints, including one from Wong, to the Communications Authority.

Wong said he wanted to challenge ATV's major investor, Wong Ching, and its executive director, James Shing Pan-yu, in a public debate.

Despite the public complaints, the station targeted Wong last night at the start of a week-long series on its Blog The World programme.

The series will claim to reveal Wong's "path to becoming a demon", as it depicts the CTI boss with red eyes, a pair of devil's horns and a tail.

A trailer for the series on Saturday drew nine complaints, alleging ATV's abuse of the television spectrum to promote its own interests and demean a potential rival, the authority said. Wong will appear in a public debate on free-television licences today organised by City University alongside industry veterans, advertising professionals and academics.