27 February 2020

Free TV licensing draws mixed market reactions

The market gave mixed reactions on Wednesday to the outcome of Hong Kong’s free television service licensing. Two winners, namely i-CABLE Communications Ltd. (01097.HK) and PCCW Ltd. (00008.HK), surged 11 percent and 57 percent, respectively, in early trade. Meanwhile, the loser Hong Kong Television Network Ltd. (01137.HK) saw its shares nosedive nearly 40 percent at one point.

Hong Kong Television Network also announced it will slash its workforce by half, apparently to staunch the losses. In the six months to February, the company incurred a net loss of HK$8.48 million (US$1.09 million) from drama production amid a protracted government review of its TV license application.

With the prospect of more rivals, Television Broadcasts Ltd. (00511.HK), the dominant network in the free TV market, demonstrated resilience and even edged up in morning trading. It is almost certain the new players still have a long way to go before they can shake up the locals‘ inertia viewing on TVB.

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