Commercial Radio yesterday said it had reached an agreement with the government on a draft licence for 12 years and was confident the deal would be sealed soon. The comments followed speculation that the government would shorten the broadcaster's licence to three years as some of its programmes were considered too critical of the administration. Its current licence runs up until August next year. The radio station's managers reportedly told a local newspaper they believed a three-year licence would be granted instead of the usual 12 years, claiming Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Henry Tang Ying-yen had ignored their request for a meeting. Mr Tang is the minister responsible for broadcasting policy. A full-page advertisement was taken out in Apple Daily yesterday by a group that claimed a three-year licence was a direct threat to freedom of speech. But in response to the controversy, Commercial Radio yesterday said it had been negotiating with the government to renew its licence since July last year. 'Throughout the negotiations, the licence renewal period as stated in all draft licences prepared by the Broadcasting Authority has always been 12 years,' a station spokeswoman said. She said the station and the authority, a government watchdog, had agreed on the terms and conditions in April. 'We have every confidence of receiving a positive response to our licence renewal application from the government. We stand ready to serve Hong Kong for another 12 years,' she said. The station has been in business for 44 years. Speculation has been rife that the Executive Council challenged grounds to grant a licence to a broadcaster so critical of the administration.