Who's who of film unite to attack TV licence decision

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 October, 2013, 3:44am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 October, 2013, 3:44am

A line-up of big names in the film industry will speak out at a media conference today on the serious impact they feel the government's television licensing decision will have on the city's cultural and creative industries.

Award-winning directors Derek Yee Tung-sing and Andrew Lau Wai-keung are among representatives from 10 industry groups who will detail how the outcome will affect investment and operation in the industries.

The government has been reluctant to explain why i-Cable and PCCW subsidiaries were successful in securing free-television licences but not Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV).

"It is not just about a lack of explanation," Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers chairman Ng See-yuen said.

The licensing issue has dragged on for nearly four years. The Broadcasting Authority recommended in 2011 to approve all three applicants, in line with a 1998 television policy review that advocated an open market with unlimited free-to-air licences.

After losing the bid, HKTV chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay laid off 320 staff and is preparing for a legal battle. The ensuing public outcry has seen nearly half a million signatures in a Facebook petition demanding HKTV get a licence. Thousands are expected to join a rally tomorrow.

"The television licences concern Hong Kong's needs, the society's demands and also the city's cultural and creative environment," Ng said. "This will also affect the future of the young."

Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong refused to discuss the decision-making, citing confidentiality rules.

Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang said the government owed Hongkongers an explanation about why it had broken its promise to allow unlimited licences. "Exco rules protect the confidentiality of advice tendered by individual members; they are not an excuse for refusing to disclose reasons for policy decisions that the public has a legitimate right to know," she said.

Director So Man-chung, of the HKTV staff union, said he expected 200 to 300 existing and former employees to join the Sunday action. The group will arrive at the government headquarters at 3pm and staff members will go on stage to share their experiences and grievances.

At the same time, Free TV Action - the group behind the Facebook page - will lead a protest march from the East Point Centre in Causeway Bay to the Tamar offices. Student group Scholarism has confirmed it will attend the protest.