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  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 9:30pm
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BROADCASTING

Two new free-TV licences approved, but backlash over HKTV's exclusion

Demand for explanation after HKTV network is denied licence despite earlier recommendation, while online supporters plan weekend protest

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 October, 2013, 7:22pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 October, 2013, 9:49am
 

Poll

  • Yes: 92%
  • No: 8%
16 Oct 2013
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 602

Two new free television licences were yesterday awarded to i-Cable's Fantastic TV and PCCW's HK Television Entertainment Company.

But the government decision drew fire for failing to explain why the application of Ricky Wong Wai-kay's Hong Kong Television Network was rejected.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung said the chief executive and Executive Council had approved in principle the issuing of the two licences.

The stations are expected to start two new channels in a year after securing their licences.

A senior government source said a consultant's report had shown HKTV, previously known as City Telecom, to be the weakest applicant, and that Exco approved the licences "on merit with no political considerations".

But the rejection of HKTV's application, which was against the Broadcasting Authority's earlier recommendation that all three licences be granted, prompted a swift backlash. By 1.30am today, a Facebook page calling upon the government to issue a licence to HKTV had attracted some 256,000 "likes". Internet users were also preparing a protest on Sunday.

Asked if the deviation from the Broadcasting Authority's recommendation would be against procedural justice, So said the authority made recommendations not decisions. He said Exco had considered "a basket of criteria" including programme planning, technical soundness, investment and public opinion.

But he refused to explain why HKTV was considered inferior to its competitors. HKTV can't appeal to Exco against the decision, but it can file a judicial review in court, he said.

HKTV said it needed time before it would comment, while TVB and ATV asked the government to spell out its reasoning in granting the licences.

The door is not completely closed on Wong's HKTV, said the government source, adding that there was no "ceiling" on new TV licences, and the government could consider whether there was a need for more in the future.

According to proposals filed to the government, i-Cable and PCCW pledged to put in more than HK$1 billion in the first six years and HK$600 million in the first three years of operation respectively. In 2010, the then-City Telecom vowed to invest HK$1 billion in six years, but had already spent at least HK$300 million on programme production.

A poll by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme in June indicated that 63.1 per cent of 514 respondents supported issuing a licence to HKTV, the highest approval rate among the applicants.

So said the decision reflected a "gradual and orderly approach" to introducing competition to the TV market by a "fair, transparent and just" process.

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This article is now closed to comments

the sun also rises
certainly a weekend protest planned by internet users in town should be carried out so as to push the C.Y. government to promote the quality of our free-to-air TV stations' programmes which have long been dominated by the poor quality soap operas produced by both TVB and ATV. The failure of Ricky Wong's HKTV to get a free-to-air licence has upsetted the majority of audience in town already.
mercedes2233
Do people set up a restaurant and employ staff before they get the appropriate licence, I wonder? Do they think they can blackmail the Govt to grant the licence this way?
wwong888
amazing. ricky wong has invested, and plans to invest more, to build a high quality tv station in hk. this guy wants to build and grow a business in hk. meanwhile, our government denies him a license, and awards it to two tycoon controlled companies, which both have a history of abusing their monopoly status to under-invest in product. we will not see a tv station from either pccw or wharf for years and years. this is total insanity. this is the mainland way! with this decision, we are now officially under communist rule. can someone please explain how it is in the public interest to deny hkt a license? anyone? anyone? f-ck CY and his cronies. its over.
chuchu59
This is so opaque and smacks of an under-the-table deal. The Government is basically saying 'Trust us, we have been very fair'. I am sorry but that's not how it works in HK. It has to be both fair and seen to be fair. So the very least the Government should do is to disclose what were the reasons for their choices and the exclusions.The public is not spoilt for choice with TVB monopolizing the industry and ATV a poor cousin(not competitor as it is totally incompetent) We need more competition and while it needs not necessarily be HKTV we need to provide a level playing field. Right now its slanted towards the incumbents.
mercedes2233
How does someone invest so much in a business when it hasn't yet got a license to operate?
wwong888
because there is no legitimate reason for him to be denied one. if there was, then the govn't would have told us yesterday. he invested because he wanted to actually build a business. not milk a monopoly position with as little investment as possible. commie trolls like you are too used to your free lunches.
mercedes2233
Still waiting for my free lunches.
Sugelanren
Will people now stop calling Hong Kong a free market. Once again we have the Government controlling what we watch. If digital TV can support 100 channels, let the market decide what to watch. And drop ATV which fails all quality thresholds.
whoaman
Love how TVB and ATV asked the gov't to spell out it's reasons for granting the licenses....DUH....just look in the mirror.
As far as HKTV not being granted a license, definitely more crony hanky panky going on - business as usual for the gov't...
fsk999
The only censorship should be a viewer's remote control.

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