HKTV axes 24 employees in ‘manpower arrangement’
Station says the cuts have nothing to do with long delay to win a free-to-air licence
Hong Kong Television Network has sacked 24 staff members in its latest round of "manpower arrangements".
Among them were a news department cameraman and nine engineering department employees. The 10 were let go after the broadcaster's news reporting operation closed following a decision not to renew its contract to provide a news service to bbTV. The contract expires today.
HKTV said every effort had been made to minimise the number of news department employees affected by giving 14 of them internal transfers.
"There are still some 40 people in the news unit. They will continue doing news research and preparing for the launch of a planned 24-hour news service," a spokeswoman said. "Those transferred will eventually re-join the news department."
The other 14 staff, from various departments, were fired for poor work performance, she said.
The spokeswoman dismissed speculation that HKTV's move signalled a cut in its investment commitment due to the government's delay in granting it a free-to-air television licence.
"That is totally unrelated to the granting of a licence," she said. "Although the granting of a licence is still under review, we shall proceed with the preparation work."
It was HKTV policy to sack 5 per cent of its worst performers each year, said the spokeswoman. Those dismissed under this policy this year accounted for 2.6 per cent of permanent headcount and 0.85 per cent of monthly average operating cost.
The broadcaster plans to invest more than HK$800 million over the next three years to build a production centre. It will start with five channels and increase to 30 over six years.
Between 2009 and 2010, HKTV, PCCW and i-Cable Communications applied for free-to-air licences, but none has yet been granted. Commerce and Economic Development minister Greg So Kam-leung said the issue was still being deliberated.
The free-to-air television market is ruled by TVB and ATV.
The latter was recently fined HK$1 million for breaching licensing conditions. Its executive director, James Shing Pan-yu, was ordered to step down by Monday for allowing investor Wong Ching to interfere with the station's daily management. The Communications Authority last night said ATV had yet to say when Shing was stepping down.