You can view TVB on handheld devices, why not HKTV on TVs?

This was the question Ricky Wong asked the Communications Authority as he demanded discretion over mobile-signal coverage

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 3:15am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 5:36pm

Ricky Wong Wai-kay is asking the communications watchdog to exercise discretion and allow Hong Kong Television Network to broadcast its service for mobile devices even though the signals could be received on normal televisions, arguing that terrestrial broadcasters TVB and ATV can be seen on any handheld TV sets.

Wong asked the Office of the Communications Authority and the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau to sit down with him to clarify the situation instead of engaging in a war of words through the media. If not, Wong said he would go ahead with a legal challenge against the Communications Authority's rejection of his HKTV mobile television service.

He said terrestrial free-to-air broadcaster TVB held a fixedcarrier licence issued through the Telecommunications Ordinance, under which only "internal telecommunications services between fixed points" were specified. So, Wong argued, TVB should not be offering services that infringe "any exclusive licence granted under the ordinance".

Programmes from both TVB and the city's other current free-to-air broadcaster ATV could be watched on mobile devices whether on the street or in cars travelling at 80km/h - the service that was specified under the mobile-TV licence held by HKTV, said Wong.

As he had been told to encrypt HKTV signals so that antennas at fixed locations would not be able to receive its broadcasts, he asked: "Why can't the Communications Authority tell TVB and ATV to encrypt their signals so that mobile devices on the road can't receive their broadcasts?"

He said even if he adopted the authority's recommended transmission standard suitable only for use on mobile phones, he would still be at risk of breaching the law as technically it was impossible to make the HKTV mobile signal available to half of the population but at the same time to less than 5,000 households.

If the service can reach more than 5,000 households, he is required to get a licence under the Broadcasting Ordinance - just like the free-to-air TV licence he was already denied last year.

"We can't direct a signal beamed inside the house through the window only and not the rooftop antenna," Wong said.

Wong insisted he was not trying to launch a free-to-air terrestrial TV broadcaster in disguise. He said the law stated clearly that mobile TV was not subject to the Broadcasting Ordinance, and HKTV's mobile TV licence agreement stated "mobile location" included "any apparatus using the technology of a mobile station for a mobile customer but being installed at a fixed location".

He said so far HKTV had sent four letters to the authority without a written response.

In a statement, TVB accused Wong of "a reckless disregard for the truth". A spokesman added that Wong's preferred transmission was the same as the one used by TVB, and was designed specifically for fixed reception.

A spokesman for the commerce bureau stressed that TV programme services for mobile reception were not subject to licensing requirements under the Broadcasting Ordinance.

The Communications Authority said last night there was no evidence ATV and TVB were providing mobile services beyond TVB's iNews and myTV services, which were transmitted over the internet and not subject to the Broadcasting Ordinance.