Watchdog satisfied with TVB's response over 'no Cantonese' policy
TVB's denial that it blocks its stars from speaking Cantonese on rival stations is enough to satisfy the broadcasting watchdog that it will not attempt to abuse its dominant market position in future, the commerce chief told lawmakers yesterday.
Greg So Kam-leung faced questions in the Legislative Council after the broadcaster was fined HK$900,000 by the Communications Authority for imposing unfair conditions on its employees and abusing its dominance.
TVB dismissed the watchdog's findings and issued a statement denying it had ever had a policy forcing artists to use a different language when they were interviewed by other channels.
So said the authority's report left no doubt that such a policy had existed in the past, but added: "The statement has satisfied the requirements of the authority by saying there won't be any anti-competitive policies in the future."
Claudia Mo Man-ching, of the Civic Party, said she was shocked the government was allowing TVB to dismiss the issue by way of a statement.
"The government doesn't have the ability and determination to deal with it," she said.
Charles Mok, representing the information technology sector, doubted whether the authority could do any more than assert its position against anti-competitive practices.
TVB and its free-to-air rival ATV have until next month to apply for the renewal of their licences, which expire in 2015.
So said the government had not received their applications yet.
In its report on the TVB case last month, the Communications Authority said there was an "implicit understanding" that celebrities affiliated to TVB would not speak Cantonese in interviews with other broadcasters.
While never written down, the authority said interviews with artists and their representatives had shown that they feared reprisals for breaching the rule.