PCCW unveils HK$1.3 billion plan for new TV station

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 October, 2013, 3:26am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 October, 2013, 10:52am

Successful TV-licence applicant PCCW announced yesterday it would invest more than HK$1.3 billion in its new free-to-air station in its first six years.

But sports enthusiasts would have to wait to see if mega events such as the Barclays Premier League would be shown on the free channels.

The government has granted an approval in principle to the applications of PCCW's HK Television Entertainment Company and i-Cable's Fantastic Television for free-to-air TV licences while rejecting that of HKTV's.

PCCW's HK$1.3 billion six-year budget exceeds Fantastic TV's "over HK$1 billion" as stated in the station's 2010 proposal to the government.

While HKTV chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay said his company had HK$2 billion of cash, PCCW has a market capitalisation of HK$25.2 billion, more than 13 times that of HKTV's.

Filming of PCCW's first drama series, the 40-episode Empress Wei Zifu, has been completed, with a production cost of over HK$60 million.

PCCW has also acquired the rights to top sports events, including the Barclays Premier League, Spanish La Liga football matches and ATP tennis.

"We intend to show some of these prime-time sporting events on our free TV service," it stated.

As PCCW's HKTVE will not be given any broadcast spectrum like TVB and ATV, viewers will need a set-top box to receive the digital TV signal. The company aims to cover at least 70 per cent of households in its first year, and 90 per cent in another two years.

PCCW yesterday renewed its calls for the government to open up the broadcast spectrum so that more viewers would be able to watch the programmes within a shorter time.

Peter Woo Kwong-ching, who chairs i-Cable mother company Wharf, refused to comment on the TV licensing issue yesterday.