• Fri
  • Jul 25, 2014
  • Updated: 1:11pm
NewsHong Kong

HKTV rejection to be explained, says Leung Chun-ying

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 November, 2013, 11:11am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 November, 2013, 8:00pm

The government will issue a six-page statement explaining its controversial decision to turn down Hong Kong Television Network’s free-to-air licence bid later on Tuesday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced.

This came as Leung said at the beginning of a vote by the Legislative Council on a proposal for an investigation into the decision that the reasoning of the government had “surprisingly” not been conveyed to the public.

“The experience in the past three weeks is that we have been telling the public... the four criteria, but surprisingly, the information has not been conveyed to the public,” said Leung, referring to communication with the media and Exco members.

Speaking ahead of the Exco meeting on Tuesday morning, Leung elaborated on the four criteria in the consultancy reports leading to the licence vetting outcomes announced on October 15, which subsequently saw a mass rally of an estimated 80,000 taking to the government headquarters.

He explained that the government's consultants had assessed i-Cable, PCCW’s subsidiaries and HKTV on four main criteria: finances, technological and production capability, programme strategy and investment.

“Firstly we consider the applicants’ financial capabilities, including the asset values and cash flow of the related companies, debt and financial backup,” said Leung.

“The second factor is programme investment, including operation costs,” he added.

“Technical issues are also concerned, such as network transmission and coverage, high-definition and interactive elements.

“The fourth factor is level of programme strategies and diversification, whether different genres of programmes are included.”

While he emphasised that revealing these details complied with Exco’ confidentiality rule and legal advice sought via the judiciary and Queen’s Counsel in London, he refused to specify how HKTV had failed to meet the criteria.

The government’s consultants had assessed i-Cable, PCCW’s subsidiaries and HKTV on four main criteria: finances, technological and production capability, programme strategy and investment.

On Tuesday, Michael Tien Puk-sun, a directly elected lawmaker from the New People’s Party, quoted officials as telling him in a closed-door meeting that HKTV’s application had been denied because government consultants had “rated HKTV the lowest” on “financial sustainability”. HKTV later wrote to the government, urging it to publicise the decision behind the rejection.

However on a radio programme on RTHK, Tien clarified his earlier comments, saying that officials had actually been concerned about HKTV’s overall “operational sustainability” and not necessarily its finances.

“[The officials’] most important consideration was … the ability to operate sustainably, which means money, as well as the depth of their production team, and whether the drama it produced could attract audience sustainably,” Tien explained.

“In at least one of the four [principles], HKTV was rated the lowest, and [the officials] gave it a heavy weighting, but they did not specify which [principle] it was.”


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This article is now closed to comments

Next time, they could save big bucks by using a Ouija board.
If there are 4 criteria, and 3 candidates, at least 1 of the candidates will rank lowest on at least 2 criteria. Geez. Einstein has left the building people.

The immediate questions arising from this first hint of an explanation are:

1. Do any or all of the four criteria carry absolute minimum thresholds? As in: if a certain minimum is not met by an applicant, then no matter anything else, it won't be approved. And if so, what are they, and why were they not communicated to potential applicants prior to the whole application process?

2. Or, if there are no minimum absolutes to be met, is this just a relative exercise, and was ExCo set on allowing only 2 new applicants to enter the market? In that case, HKTV is just the weakest out of 3? But why is the number of new licenses capped at 2? And not 1, or 3, or 10? And exactly how weak was HKTV considered to be then, compared to the other, or even the existing broadcasters?

Those 6 pages better contain answers to all of the above, or we will be none the wiser.
Dear Albert never enter the building! CY is using smoke and mirrors before Legco's vote. Those 6 pages will not offer any insightful answers to the questions posed by you or the general public; most likely, even more questions will be raise, more smoke and mirrors.


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