Ricky Wong plans court action as HKTV plans hit 'dead end'

Ofca tells HKTV that it has to get a domestic free-to-view or pay-TV licence first before launching new mobile TV service

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2014, 6:51pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 March, 2014, 9:49am

The entrepreneur who revolutionalised Hong Kong's telecom market says the government has pushed him to a dead end after it repeatedly blocked him from entering the television market.

Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay said yesterday he would take the battle to court after the government cited legal reasons to stop him from launching a mobile television service on July 1.

"This is a laughable and violent move," Wong said. "The Hong Kong government has stopped us from realising our dreams again and again. We have reached a dead end. We just want to make good TV. Do 'you' have to go this far?"

He was speaking after the Office of the Communications Authority (Ofca) told HKTV that unless it limited its audience to 5,000 households or fewer it would have to apply for a free or pay television licence under the Broadcasting Ordinance.

"I'm left with no choice but to postpone the HKTV launch and suspend production of new programmes," Wong said.

"It's ridiculous ... more fictional than fiction," Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said.

HKTV's application for a free-to-air television licence was rejected without a convincing explanation last October after a three-year wait. It caused public outrage with tens of thousands mounting a week-long rally outside government headquarters.

Watch: HKTV supporters gather at Hong Kong government to protest against failed licence last November

HKTV pressed ahead with plans for a mobile service in December after acquiring China Mobile Hong Kong Corporation for HK$142 million along with its mobile television licence.

Wong said Ofca had not stopped the previous owner from operating a mobile service and he could not see the grounds for Ofca's latest stance.

Wong has spent more than HK$1 billion on his television plan but said he had no plans for layoffs among his 300 HKTV staff. He denied he was negotiating a deal with ATV.

Wong, who attended last Sunday's media-freedom protest after the attack on former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to, refused to say whether he had offended anyone that might have led to the government's determination to stop the launch of HKTV. "I'm just a businessman. I have no plans to offend anyone. Today's Hong Kong is no longer the Hong Kong I used to know. We are now in the state of terror."