Henry Tang says there was nothing out of the ordinary in the renewal of Commercial Radio's permit Hong Kong's Commercial Radio, which broadcasts programmes critical of the government, will have its licence renewed for another 12 years, despite earlier speculation that it would only be allowed to operate for another three years. Both Commercial Radio and Metro Broadcast have been granted 12-year licences when their current licences expire on August 25 next year. These will be subject to a mid-term review in 2010. Announcing the decision by the Executive Council yesterday, Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Henry Tang Ying-yen said the government had no intention of using its licensing power to curb the freedom of expression in Hong Kong. But Mr Tang sidestepped questions on whether the government had considered renewing the broadcaster's licence for a shorter period. The Broadcasting Authority issued two warnings to Commercial Radio on June 14 on the grounds that two officials had not been treated fairly during two editions of the talk show Teacup in a Storm on April 24 and 25. The incidents triggered 157 complaints. Some of the complaints were related to comments that talk show host Albert Cheng King-hon made on April 24 when he described deputy Director of Housing Lau Kai-hung as a 'dog-like' official for turning a blind eye to 'exploitation' of manual workers. During another on-air war of words between Mr Cheng and the then-acting chief executive of the Hospital Authority, Ko Wing-man, a day later, Mr Cheng criticised Dr Ko for failing to address medical workers' needs, which prompted a public offer from Dr Ko to resign if necessary. Mr Cheng threatened to quit the programme last month in protest against the warnings, issued when the authority was considering renewing the station's licence. He took himself off the air voluntarily after being reprimanded by the Broadcasting Authority. There has been speculation that Executive Council member Leung Chun-ying had challenged the granting of a licence to a broadcaster critical of the administration but Mr Leung has denied this. Last week, Mr Cheng said that his sources had told him Commercial Radio's licence was likely to be renewed for only three to six years, not the usual 12. He said his decision to return to the airwaves depended partly on the licence issue. The outspoken host said yesterday the government's decision was an indication that it had finally listened to the public. Commercial Radio, which has been on the air for 44 years, said it was pleased with the government's decision. 'We thank the government's trust and public support for us,' a spokesman said. Mr Tang said renewal of the licence for another 12 years was recommended by the Broadcasting Authority. 'The government considered there was no grounds not to stick to the authority's recommendation,' he said. 'Freedom of expression has been guaranteed under the Basic Law. The government has no intention of curbing these freedoms.' Mr Tang said the decision was not affected by the three mass protests staged since July 1.