Pay-television and broadband internet services provider iCable Communications saw its share price increase as much as 43 per cent in trading yesterday on speculation that it might be close to being awarded a free-TV licence by the government. Its share price closed at 38 HK cents, up 29.31 per cent. In a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange, iCable's board of directors said they were "not aware of any reasons" for the sudden surge in the company's share price and trading volume. Its affiliate, Fantastic Television, submitted an application in 2010 for a free TV licence, but authorities have yet to announce a decision. Meanwhile, the share price of Television Broadcasts, the city's free TV market leader, fell as much as 8.3 per cent in early trading before closing at HK$53.85, down 4.01 per cent. Grace Leung Lai-kuen, lecturer in the school of journalism and communication at Chinese University, said the fluctuations in share price of two TV operators were unusual. She said it was not related to TV licence rumours because this topic had been circulating for the past year. She said iCable's price had dropped after the company last month reported a net loss of HK$96.89 million for the six months ended June 30, compared to HK$54.75 million for the same period in 2011. She said yesterday's climb may have merely been a rebound. Meanwhile, the opposite scenario may have affected TVB's share price, which had risen "a bit too much" last month after the company declared its interim net profit had risen 18.2 per cent to a record high of HK$850 million. To Yiu-ming, an associate professor of journalism at Baptist University, said the sharp rise in iCable stock was strange and he was unable to decipher the reasons. He said the government has been dragging its feet on the issue of free-to-air TV licences because of political reasons.