HKTV seeking buyers despite off-screen dramas

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 March, 2013, 3:43am

Its free-to-air television licence is still pending and there are lawsuits under way, but HKTV is hoping to get buyers' attention at industry fair Filmart this week.

Chief executive To Wai-bing said Hong Kong Television Network had lined up at least 10 meetings with potential buyers and partners for each day of the four-day fair that opened yesterday, but she did not expect to close any deals at Filmart.

"We are not ready to sell yet because the programmes haven't been aired in Hong Kong," To said. "But we want to maintain relations with our partners and potential buyers and to show them our productions."

She agreed shows could be sold outside the city for more if they could be aired at the same time as they are shown in Hong Kong. HKTV has released trailers for its shows, but potential buyers will be able to see a full episode. Most are from Southeast Asia and the mainland, To said, with some from Japan and South Korea. "Most buyers are interested in crime thrillers and stories about medical professionals," To said.

The network has more than 150 hours of TV shows ready - with another 80 episodes to be completed by June.

Formerly City Telecom, HKTV has been battling to get a terrestrial TV licence for over three years, as have i-Cable and PCCW. But the government has yet to grant the licence. Chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay has been vocal about the long wait.

Surveys have consistently shown over 80 per cent of Hongkongers want more TV stations to choose from. But free-to-air stations ATV and TVB have taken turns seeking judicial reviews into the granting of new licences.

HKTV says it is still financially sound after it sold the Hong Kong Broadband Network for HK$2.8 billion. A spokeswoman insisted it was architectural changes and not financial troubles that caused it to suspend construction of its new media production centre in Tseung Kwan O. The HK$800 million centre - which will be bigger than originally planned, with a 500,000 sq ft floor area, instead of 300,000 sq ft - is due to be completed in three years.

Also at the fair, TVB previewed its TV highlights and unveiled new mainland venture TVBC (Television Broadcasts China), with China Media Capital and Shanghai Media Group.

Meanwhile, comedian and producer Chapman To Man-chat said his new film company Go Local! planned to make at least five films in the next three years. And China 3-D Digital Entertainment, which made 3-D Sex and Zen, said it would remake 1993 crime thriller The Untold Story in 3-D, based on a true story of a murderer who turned his victims into meat buns. Filmart runs until Thursday at the Convention and Exhibition Centre.