Thousands of protesters demand answers on HKTV decision
Leung declines to address rally on government decision to reject HKTV
Vivienne Chow, Amy Nip and Tanna Chong
Tens of thousands of black-clad protesters occupied the grounds of government headquarters last night demanding an explanation of the decision on free-to-air television licences - but Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said this would only be given in court.
Leung refused to address the public rally on why Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) was denied a licence while two others were approved.
"There are two upcoming judicial reviews, so I cannot elaborate on the rationale at this stage," Leung said.
He was referring to a challenge filed by Philip Li Koi-hop, chairman of fringe political group the People's Opposition Party and one promised by HKTV chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay.
Li said later he would not go ahead with his review but ATV, facing competition from the new players, is now considering one.
Leung spoke as the number of protesters swelled in a week when former HKTV staff had camped outside the headquarters in Admiralty after a march last Sunday drew 36,000 to 80,000, people according to estimates by police and organisers.
Last night Civic Square, Tim Mei Avenue, Tamar Park and the Legco carpark were full.
The former staff have demanded an answer from the government by today on why i-Cable's Fantastic Television and PCCW's Hong Kong Television Entertainment got licences while HKTV did not.
Refusing to say any more, Leung said: "We know the public are very concerned."
He added: "We have complied with procedural justice, having considered the consultancy reports and all criteria."
Wong meanwhile distanced himself from the growing social movement saying it was his staff, not he, who had given the government an ultimatum. He said he would like to help disperse public grievances.
"But we need to talk to the government first. If they refuse to sit down and talk, the problem will remain unsolved," he added.
Wong, who has repeatedly said he does not believe political considerations were behind the rejection of his licence bid, disclosed a "leftist" inclination in a public lecture yesterday.
He said some TV stations gave Hongkongers a bad impression of Beijing and things should be done to make local youngsters more patriotic. He said he was no democracy fighter, and was "a bit leftist".
As the stock price of HKTV surged yesterday, Exco member Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun said in a statement that "there was no suggestion that the TV licensing decision would be reviewed".
On Thursday, she told the Post that the Executive Council "could have a chance to discuss the licence issue again".