Filmmakers call for speedy decision on issuing TV licences

Three-year delay in granting free-to-air permits to broadcasters 'is harming creative industry'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 December, 2012, 3:31am

Hong Kong filmmakers have demanded that the government issue new free-to-air television licences immediately, saying the future of the city's culture and creativity is was at stake.

They submitted a statement yesterday to Commerce Secretary Greg So Kam-leung, who is responsible for the new licences, calling for action.

A decision has been pending since City Telecom - now using the name Hong Kong Television Network - PCCW and i-Cable Communications filed their applications three years ago.

The chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, Ng See-yuen, said film and television came from the same bloodline.

"Hong Kong's TV industry is in fact a breeding ground for talent in the film industry," Ng said. "Many filmmakers, from [directors] Ann Hui On-wah to Tsui Hark to [actor and producer]Andy Lau Tak-wah started in television. The government should issue these three licences now. The future of Hong Kong's culture and creativity is at stake."

Award-winning director Derek Yee Tung-sing, chairman of the Hong Kong Film Directors Guild, said that more players in the television industry would not only create more jobs for young people, the added competition would lead to a higher standard in productions.

Hong Kong Television Network showed trailers of some of its new productions at a press conference last week and subsequently on the internet, although it has yet to be granted a licence. The clips were generally well received.

Filmmakers added in the statement that television was an important platform for the distribution of film productions, and additional new players in the industry would provide more such platforms.

They disagreed with arguments by existing players Television TVB and ATV that the Hong Kong market cannot support more free-to-air stations because there was limited advertising revenue available.

Filmmakers said in the statement that just like film productions, television productions should be seeking a much larger overseas export market instead of a small local market.

The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said it had received the statement and the government had been processing the three applications.