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  • Jul 25, 2014
  • Updated: 2:14am
NewsHong Kong

Government looks set to defeat motion calling for TV licence probe

Bid for special probe into HKTV decision faces defeat as wavering lawmakers set to oppose motion while thousands protest outside Legco

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 November, 2013, 3:35pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 November, 2013, 4:34pm

A bid to launch a special Legislative Council investigation into television licence row faces defeat today after a group of wavering lawmakers last night decided to vote with the government against a pan-democrat motion.

As thousands opposed to the controversial government decision to refuse Ricky Wong Wai-kay's Hong Kong Television a free-to-air television licence protested outside government headquarters, the momentum inside the Legco chamber swung towards the government.

Video: Thousands of HKTV supporters gather government HQ for more protests against the decision to deny the channel a licence

They should listen to the people ... the public deserve a choice and there's a wide consensus that the current TV programmes are awful
Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, leader of Business and Professionals Alliance

Hours of debate ended without a vote, but barring a remarkable numerical turnaround, the motion to invoke Legco's special investigative powers and spark an investigation into the decision will fail today - and the battle will move to the courts.

Last night's drama followed dissatisfaction at Tuesday's attempt by the government to explain its decision to grant licences only to PCCW's Hong Kong Television Entertainment Company and iCable's Fantastic Television.

It said concerns over "the dilution of advertising revenue" in an overcrowded free-to-air market gave it reason to limit the number of licences granted.

Earlier yesterday, the attempt to force the government to reveal the reasons behind its decision by invoking the powers and privileges ordinance was three votes short in the 35-member functional constituency, after industrial lawmaker Lam Tai-fai decided to vote for the motion.

By last night, three non-affiliated functional lawmakers - Chan Kin-por, Poon Siu-ping and Tony Tse Wai-chuen - were still wavering but the eight votes in from the Business Professional Alliance grouping look to have swung it for the government.

Cultural lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok, who expressed discontent at the government's handling of the row, said: "There is a strong voice in the industry urging me to vote for the motion, but this is against my beliefs. Resorting to the court for a judicial review is a better option to corner the government," he said.

Amid frantic pre-vote lobbying, the government deployed about 20 officials at the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau to ensure enough votes to veto the motion.

The pro-establishment camp expressed disappointment towards government despite most of them opposing the motion.

Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, leader of Business and Professionals Alliance, said the TV licence row would harm the government's ability to implement future policies.

"We really hope the government can learn from its mistakes," said Leung. "They should listen to the people ... the public deserve a choice and there's a wide consensus that the current TV programmes are awful."

Separately, Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong yesterday said it would be best to leave the case to the judiciary.

"The court, as an institution with high credibility, could then review if the government's arguments and procedures in granting licences are reasonable," he said, adding this would be fairer to all parties involved.

Meanwhile, private citizen Lee Yeung-kwong has sought a judicial review of the government's decision - the second such court challenge mounted by a private citizen in as many days.

Additional reporting by Stuart Lau, Jeffie Lam and Austin Chi


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This article is now closed to comments

The HKTV debate is taking on an exaggerated importance and the Government's mishandling of it has helped to turn it into a cause celebre. Hong Kong has more important issues.
Government lobbying may defeat attempts to launch an enquiry but this is just playing at politics and the pro-establishment camp is simply showing how supine, weak and subservient it is by not taking an independent stand for transparency.
The polarisation of politics in HK was predicted long ago when the administration, doing the bidding of its masters in the PRC, began watering down the Basic Law provisions for universal suffrage such as Beijing has to approve candidates for Chief Executive elections. It has turned into Orwell's famous satire: "all animals are equal" being amended by "but some animals are more equal than others."
sudo rm -f cy
It's over. Hong Kong is over.
To many members of the public this isn't about HKTV, it's about transparency in Government. Even the PRC Government apparently acknowledge that opaqueness creates the perfect conditions for corruption and HK's discredited Political (Crony) Appointments System has pushed the SAR well on the way to that abyss.
How long it will be before the paranoid hardliners in Beijing send in the troops is anyone's guess.
I would say I was a CY Leung's supporter and even supported various controversial government stand in nationalist education, North east development and measures to cool the property market etc. I am not a TV fans at all so how many licenses to be granted and whether HKTV can a license does not matter me at all. However, the way the government handled this case simply showed the incompetence of CY Leung led government which failed to predict and manage public expectation and worst of all, failed to convince us how such decisions were made with loads of rubbish statement. CY Leung, I will sure vote you down next time. Secondly the legco vote today is revealing the true faces of those puppet councilors and they will pay a price later.
Hail the bulest!
I personally really confused about why Hong kong people recently turn to be more political than usual. My impression is that Hong kong people can always choose what in their best interest in a peaceful manner. The Hong Kong people haven't ask for general election during the British rule, how they become so eager and use some a bit cross-line actions which are no tolerate by the central to pursue that? It is clear that if Hong Kong remain relatively peaceful, Beijing will answer most of it demands since Hong Kong is so important to Beijing in both economy and international relationship area. The trust building always need to be both sides. Hong Kong cannot make demands without make compromises in dealing with their firm motherland.
Who are you? Why is your username completely masked? Why SCMP allow certain users be completely masked of their username? This is pathetic!!
Hail the bulest!
A concerned citizen as everybody else, I am not subscribe yet so I don't own a username.
Hong Kong is just one big kindergarten!!! Kids who do not get their icecream!
* why is everyone in an outrage about over this? everyone worried about the billionaire ricky wong?
you think he cares about you?
* yes lets take down the whole government cause tiny ricky wong did not get what he wants
* unless all these posters are just angry cause they lost a potential gravy train




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