Listening to the arguments over Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV), I know this is mostly a stick to beat the administration of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, but the comments from the political pundits would be more plausible if they were based on life in the real media world.
Talk of the advertising market or marketing spend growing is erroneous. Advertisers buy impressions.
They tell TVB they want their advert played until it has been seen by 50 million people. TVB, with over 80 per cent of the market, may get 2.5 million people watching a key scene from the popular series No Regrets (shown a couple of years ago). It plays the advert 20 times and uses 10 minutes of commercial air time to reach 50 million impressions.
If the government went from two to five free-to-air broadcasters, TVB would still be a major player, but its audience would fall. It would have to use more air time to get in the same amount of money.
Available commercial time will not grow, it will still be limited for each broadcaster. It is the potential viewers - impressions - that is the limiting factor.
More stations means a dilution of audiences, and the cost per thousand for impressions cannot grow too much or advertisers will not pay. So there is a limit to the advertising spending pool.
Why doesn't HKTV just buy ATV and rebrand it? It is in a poor state and has few ads.
Also, who employs 500 people before winning the licence?
I applied for and won a broadcasting licence in the UK and we employed no one before we won the franchise.
We paid people to contribute to the submission, but it does not take 500 to write an application document. So having 500 staff does give the impression of financial imprudence.
The view put forward, that no one should be turned down, seems to promote a market-forces argument.
However, it does not take any account of the livelihood of the employees of any company that fails, or the wrecking of the standard of TV in Hong Kong due to the lack of funds to make programmes.
Will that benefit the viewers of Hong Kong, the viewers the Legislative Council members are there to represent?
Let's not just beat the government over the head, although heaven knows it needs it. When HKTV applied it knew the process, and so did Legco.
Tony Harding, Kennedy Town