HKTV shopping channel a desperate measure, boss Ricky Wong admits
Hong Kong Television Network's decision to launch an online shopping platform is an act of desperation, the controversial broadcaster's chairman admitted yesterday.
Ricky Wong Wai-kay announced last month that a 24-hour shopping channel and virtual mall would be part of HKTV's online and mobile television services. The company turned to online and mobile platforms after its application for a free-to-air licence was rejected by the government last year despite massive public support.
But explaining his plans to a sold-out crowd of business leaders at a General Chamber of Commerce lunch yesterday, the colourful entrepreneur admitted he had no interest in e-commerce as such and saw it merely as a way to pay the bills. Wong spent more than HK$300 million on programming in anticipation of getting a licence.
"I'm doing this only because I have been left with no other option," Wong said. "Producing television is still my main objective. I'm doing this stuff just to earn money … online television cannot rely on advertising."
The station could expect to make just HK$150 in advertising for every 1,000 views for its online video content, meaning it would be tough to make money from a standalone television network.
Wong said he had 100 retail brands on board for the e-commerce platform, which he hoped would be up and running by the end of the year. Rather than being a "Wai-kay department store" stocking many products, the new platform would be a "bridge" between retailers and customers.
Brands will not be charged a fee to promote their brands on HKTV but would have to pay commission.
Wong said last month that the shopping channel would be one of up to five HKTV offered.
A judicial review of the government's decision to refuse HKTV's free-to-air licence bid is to be heard in the High Court on August 27, with a decision expected before the end of the year.
HKTV has also been granted leave to seek a review of the government's handling of its plans for mobile television amid a dispute over the technical standard chosen for its broadcasts.
"We hope both judicial reviews can obtain a good response so we can provide entertainment programmes to citizens as soon as possible," Wong said.