Hong Kong Television Network Ltd. (01137.HK, HKTV) is outpacing i-Cable Communications Ltd. (01097.HK) and PCCW Ltd. (00008.HK) with the launch of its new television service set for Nov. 19, the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of ejinsight.com, reported Monday.
HKTV, controlled by telecommunications guru Ricky Wong Wai-kay, will offer through its online mall 1,000 hours of television programs it had produced.
The company last week showed on Facebook how its supporters could watch its productions on televisions, computers, tablets and smartphones.
HKTV is pressing ahead despite losing out in its bid for a free-television broadcast license to i-Cable’s Fantastic Television Ltd. and PCCW’s HK Television Entertainment Co., both of which gained in-principle approval for a license from the government in October last year.
The two new potential free-TV licensees are still in discussions with the government on the terms and conditions of their license.
Critics said the long-drawn process in the opening up of the existing radio frequency — which the current free-TV operators, Television Broadcasts Ltd. (00511.HK) and Asia Television Ltd. (ATV), are using – reflects the government’s reluctance in boosting competition in the market that may squeeze out ATV.
“The government perhaps is waiting for the renewal of ATV’s license due next month,” said lawmaker Claudia Mo, who sits on the information technology and broadcasting panel of the Legislative Council.
“This is because ATV serves a political purpose, and the authorities may doubt the operator’s ability to survive if two more free-TV licensees are introduced to the market,” Mo said.
A spokesman for the Communications Authority said the issue of the licenses is pending as the government is still reviewing the restructuring plan of HK Television Entertainment, which was submitted in July, in compliance with regulations that a free-TV operator must stand on its own, not as a subsidiary.
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