Hong Kong’s ViuTV to launch new English channel in March next year

The PCCW-owned station has been broadcasting in Chinese since April; it now plans to offer 17 hours of English programming a day including news and public affairs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 8:32am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 8:32am

An additional English-language free-to-air television channel will be launched by newcomer ViuTV in March next year, breaking the current domination of Television Broadcasts (TVB) in this area.

ViuTVsix will broadcast high-definition programming 17 hours a day on channel 96. It will include three to four hours of news and public affairs programmes together with lifestyle shows, overseas dramas and documentaries. Local and international news will be outsourced to agencies such as Reuters and CNN.

Newcomers muscle in on Hong Kong’s TV war

TVB has been the only broadcaster offering free locally produced English-language programmes since Asia Television (ATV) closed in March.

“We hope to continue to bring more choice to our local audience,’’ PCCW-owned ViuTV general manager Lo Ting-fai said.

Lo added that 41 per cent of their viewers from September to October were 15 to 44, meaning they had been successful in attracting a younger audience since their launch in April.

The executive did not disclose overall viewership numbers but admitted that the Chinese channel had not reached the same level it had in its early days when it broadcast reality show Travel with Rivals.

Baptist University assistant journalism professor To Yiu-ming said he thought ViuTV’s outlook was gloomy.

“It has nothing to do with their content,” To said. “It’s just that it is too difficult to fight the trend that more people tend to watch shows and receive information online rather than by sitting in front of a television.”

To added that the English channel would not be able to draw a significant number of viewers if they maintained their current practice of broadcasting foreign programmes.

“Expats really do not need more foreign programmes as they can easily access them elsewhere,” he said. “I believe the broadcaster should use programmes with a local context.”

Professor Anthony Fung Ying-him, director of Chinese University’s school of journalism and communication, was more optimistic.

“They will not be able to invest as much as TVB in terms of internal production, but their creativity in broadcasting a wide variety of shows, including buying low-cost overseas programmes, is their key to survival,’’ Fung said.