• Sun
  • Aug 31, 2014
  • Updated: 8:11pm
NewsHong Kong

Ricky Wong warned two months ago about plans to upgrade mobile TV service

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 March, 2014, 1:39pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 10:04am

The government hit back yesterday at Ricky Wong Wai-kay's allegations that was it deliberately blocking him from launching his television business.

It said Wong's current plan for his HKTV mobile television service would breach the law without a licence. Free-to-air leader TVB also stepped into the row, accusing Wong of reinventing HKTV as "de facto domestic free TV without a licence" by upgrading its broadcasting standards.

Wong, who was told on Tuesday that he must not launch a mobile TV service if he did not change his plan, denied his service was free TV in disguise.

Eliza Lee Man-ching, director-general of communications in the Office of the Communications Authority, said the office contacted HKTV in January after learning of its intention to upgrade its transmission standard from China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting (CMMB ) to the much finer Digital Terrestrial Multimedia Broadcasting (DTMB). On January 24, it gave a "friendly reminder" the change might make the station liable to the Broadcasting Ordinance.

"If HKTV adopted the DTMB standard, more than two million households would be able to watch its programmes on TV at home," deputy director-general of telecommunications Danny Lau Kwong-cheung said.

The number would exceed 5,000 households, a threshold which triggers the licensing requirement. No external receiver was needed to watch DTMB transmissions, he added.

TVB said it used DTMB, which covered 99 per cent of the population, as the transmission standard for its five digital terrestrial television channels.

HKTV's plan to use the same standard and become a "de facto" free service was the reason it terminated Wong's lease of TVB's hilltop transmission sites.

"We may also be legally liable if the unlawful broadcast is transmitted from our hilltop sites," a spokesman said.

Government sources said the Broadcasting Ordinance and Telecommunications Ordinance - attacked by legal experts for being outdated and leaving "grey areas" - would be reviewed.

The sources refused to comment on whether the government had assessed the extent of public anger over its denial of a new free-to-air licence to Wong, after which he launched his plan for a mobile service.

"We regret that this has interrupted [Wong's] plan, but we did not target Wong or anyone," one senior government source said. "We too want him to succeed. But there is a legal issue here."

HKTV chairman Wong had hoped to make a comeback with a mobile service through the HK$142 million acquisition of mobile TV licensee China Mobile Hong Kong Corporation.

The authority suggested HKTV adopt another transmission standard, but Wong questioned whether he would fall into a legal trap if future TV sets were upgraded to receive other signals without any external devices.

Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said the government owed the public an explanation for blocking HKTV.

HKTV shares, suspended on Tuesday, resumed trading yesterday. Prices fell by 22 per cent.

Additional reporting by Ada Lee and Jeffie Lam



For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

The seemingly complicated issue of communication technology is now clearer to the public of Hong Kong: the more delving into the row about the contradictions between the Broadcasting Ordinance and Telecommunications Ordinance has become, the clarity of the grey area, namely, the 5000-household governing threshold, now agreed by the Government sources to be reviewed, support strongly and indisputably that HKTV is entitled to launch his plan for a mobile service by whatever transmission standards he thinks fit. This is exactly the area not kept abreast of by the legal draughtsman of the current leaps-and-bounds evolution of transmission technology and by common law concept allows anyone who can reap the harvest because of the legal loophole. From the arguments now presented by both sides, the Office of the Communications Authority has indeed protected HKTV from future and further harassment by the Authority!
If Ricky still hasn't realized by now that the government does not "like" him for the obvious reasons such as his arrogant and cocky attitude...............he really should get out of the TV thing and find something else to do.
First, welcome to hk as the "so-called" freest economy in the world! Yet also but tied down with all kinds of rules that was created at the colonial age and outdated lazy government and ledgco didn't bother to amend, including our land development process. We all suffer.
Second, Wong, why are you wasting your energy and money to keep rocking something that is wasting your time and not very interesting to hk people? TV is boring for the new generation. I'm sure with your energy and financial backing, you can rock the "monopoly" economy of HK commercials in many ways. That will impact and change hk much more than TV. If you don't know how, call me.
Dai Muff
If this were the"colonial age" Wong would have his channel by now. There was plenty of room for CTV and the colonial government left it to market forces.
Keeping the dodo ATV on artificial respiration has nothing to do with the "colonial age" and everything to do with the "Beijing age".
Dai Muff
"We did not target Wong or anyone," one senior government source said. "WE TOO WANT HIM TO SUCCEED. But there is a legal issue here."
And the award for porky pie of the day goes to ........
It is only a matter of time before Netflix or an equivalent service will be launched in Hong Kong. Then all the current broadcasters and their precious licenses will be left to rust. Honestly, why doesn't Ricky Wong just start a pay-per-view or subscription internet channel?
Interesting how the government and TVB are trying to stop Wong in every way possible... TVB should be under scrutiny for their monopoly, which is a much greater concern to me (not that that mean anything :) than Wong and HKTV, as they still have to prove their worth. A bit hard without a TV platform...
sudo rm -f cy
Technically, CMMB could also be viewed in homes with the right adapter. The only difference is that CMMB's quality is so **** that no one would bother blowing up the image to fit a 30-inch screen.
Dai Muff
Which leaves one with the stupid argument: "You can have a channel as long as it looks like ****, but if you improve the quality, you cannot."
In what way is this benefiting the consumer? (Something we know is NEVER a concern for TVB.)


SCMP.com Account