Filmmakers blast rejection of HKTV free-to-air licence

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 October, 2013, 6:57am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 October, 2013, 9:26am

Hong Kong's filmmaking elite yesterday condemned the decision to reject HKTV's bid for a free-to-air television licence, saying it could sound the death knell for creative industries in the city.

It came ahead of a protest today over the decision that may see thousands take to the streets.

Meanwhile, lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan confirmed she was two votes away from the support needed to invoke the Legislative Council's Powers and Privileges Ordinance at a Legco meeting on November 8 to access key documents related to the decision. They included minutes of Executive Council meetings and consultant reports.

Ho said she wanted to clarify reports indicating that the proper process may not have been followed.

At a media briefing yesterday, 10 guilds representing more than 1,000 industry professionals denounced the licence decision, saying it would kill off any hope of a revival of the city's television industry. They said TV was where the great film directors, actors and technical staff got their start.

Adding to their criticism of the government's move to knock back Hong Kong Television Network's bid, they said more competition was needed to shake up the industry, which lags five to seven years behind other places.

"We have grave concerns that Hong Kong's TV and creative industries will be forced down the path of regression," Hong Kong Directors Guild president Derek Yee Tung-sing said. "Who do those executive councillors think they are? How can they refuse to give an explanation?"

The guild's honorary president, Ng See-yuen, said he was disappointed that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had failed to keep his pre-election promise to support the creative industries.

Meanwhile, Ricky Wong Wai-kay, chairman of HKTV, told RTHK more about the approach he received from a government official in 2009 to lodge a bid for a licence.

"It was something more than an invitation" to apply for a licence, he said, adding that the details of this would be revealed in court.

He said he had not yet applied for a judicial review but once he did, the licences granted to iCable's Fantastic TV and PCCW's Hong Kong Television Entertainment Company could be delayed.

Three groups will converge on the government headquarters at Tamar, Admiralty, today to demand an explanation.

Free TV Action will begin its protest march to Tamar from Causeway Bay at 3pm.

Political commentator Ivan Choy Chi-keung said the issue could turn into a headache for the government like the mass rallies last year prompted by the proposed introduction of a national education curriculum.