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Hong Kong economy

Hong Kong pay TV operator i-Cable expects to break even in three to five years

Company will step up internet content, says chief operating officer

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2018, 9:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2018, 9:03am

Loss-making pay television operator i-Cable Communications expects to break even in the next three to five years, after reporting an accumulated loss of HK$2 billion (US$254.9 million) in the past 10 years.

The turnaround will rely on changes in content and corporate structure, while new technologies will help the company expand its customer base, according to the operator of Hong Kong’s cable television.

“If we want to continue to survive in the market, we must make reforms and restructure our business and structure,” said Irene Leung Shuk-yee, the company’s chief operating officer.

Leung said the company would step up internet content amid fierce competition. “We will develop OTT [over the top] services to attract a younger generation of customers,” said Leung, who took up the new post in February.

The company has reported losses for 10 straight years amounting to about HK$2 billion, according to Joe Kwok, i-Cable’s chief financial officer.

As a result of the huge losses reported, the operator’s original majority shareholder Wharf Holdings refused to inject fresh capital.

Forever Top, a consortium led by New World Development chairman Henry Cheng Kar-shun and tycoon David Chiu Tat-cheong, acted as a white knight consortium, taking control of i-Cable.

Leung said the new owners of the pay television operator did not strictly set a profit making target, but “we hope the balance of payments can be achieved within three to five years”.

“The situation is very serious and the problems will not be solved in the short term. There are skill mismatches and we need to change colleagues’ mindset,” she said.

Cable television and Fox Networks Group have reached an agreement to broadcast 14 of the latter’s channels, including film, sports and other channels.

After Cable television received complaints from subscribers about its complicated contract termination process, Leung said the operator needed to improve its customers services, which would also help it attract new customers.

The company has about 1,800 employees after some staff members left the company voluntarily, compared with about 2,000 at the end of last year.