Speed up new TV licences, Legco told

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 January, 2013, 5:01am

Applicants seeking free-to-air television licences continued to urge the government to speed up the approval process in a Legislative Council meeting yesterday.

Fantastic Television, a subsidiary of i-Cable Communications, urged the government to explain the obstacles, and devise a timetable for when the permits would be issued.

In a special meeting of the information technology and broadcasting panel, lawmakers passed a motion to reprimand the government for delaying new licences, keeping information about the issue from the public they were entitled to know, and harming public interest.

The government refused to make a consultant report on the matter public, citing the Executive Council's rule of confidentiality.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung refused to answer some lawmakers' questions because of an ongoing judicial review of the Communication Authority's decision to recommend the granting of the licences by Television Broadcasts.

Wai Siu-yu, project manager of Fantastic Television, said it would be unrealistic for the government to wait till there were no more objections on the matter to proceed. "There would be legal challenges one after another. So after the [judicial review], the Executive Council should make a decision in principle. That would give some direction for those who oppose it too," he said, adding the government could do another round of public consultation.

Janice Lee, of Hong Kong Television Entertainment Company, under PCCW, and Hong Kong Television Network chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay said more competition in the market would benefit the industry's development and the public.

TVB and Asia Television representatives said the market could not accommodate more free-to-air stations, the consultation was unfair and the authority's decision was based on inaccurate information.