Week-long HKTV protest ends but is set to resume next week, union says

Week-long demonstration over decision to deny a free-to-air television licence ends, but union says the protest will resume next week

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 October, 2013, 5:31am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 October, 2013, 5:31am

Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) staff ended their week-long protest outside government headquarters yesterday morning - but they say they will be back.

The protesters vowed to return next week when pan-democrats have a second go at invoking the Legislative Council's powers to order an investigation into the decision to deny HKTV a free-to-air television licence.

A handful of HKTV staff union members said they would continue to camp in Civic Square, outside the Tamar headquarters in Admiralty.

HKTV staff union chairman Henry Yeung Chi-ho said they needed to take a break and plan the next step.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor reiterated that discussions in the Executive Council could not be disclosed. Lam added that she understood how the HKTV employees felt.

"When Exco is discussing an issue, there might be different opinions among the members. But once the conclusion is reached, we take collective responsibility for it," she said. "I'm afraid the only way forward is to reveal the reasons in court."

HKTV chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay has said he plans to file a judicial review of the decision.

Yesterday was the deadline set by the union for the government to explain its decision. In a statement, the union said it was disappointed and angry that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had ignored the tens of thousands of protesters.

The government's controversial decision to award licences to PCCW's Hong Kong Television Entertainment Company and i-Cable's Fantastic TV but not HKTV saw 36,000 to 80,000 protesters - depending on whether the police or the organisers' estimate is taken as correct - descend on government headquarters last Sunday. The group of about 100 HKTV staff had remained camped out at Tamar demanding an explanation.

A motion to invoke the legislature's powers to investigate the decision was defeated on Friday. Tabled by information technology sector lawmaker Charles Mok, the motion was intended to force the government to produce all relevant papers involved in the vetting and approval of licence applications.

Pan-democrats expect to re-table the motion on November 6. The union said staff would return to Civic Square then.

Staff thanked the public for their support. One employee said: "Some people stopped by when they knocked off work, or during their lunch breaks. They'd tell us they supported us and gave us soup and other things. I was very touched."