The Hong Kong government is lodging an appeal against a High Court ruling that directed the administration to review its decision to deny a free-to-air TV license to Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV, 01137.HK).
The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said in a statement Tuesday that the Executive Council has decided to file an appeal against the High Court’s ruling last month.
The decision was made after receiving legal advice, and a notice has been sent to HKTV’s legal representatives, Ming Pao Daily cited the bureau as saying in the statement.
The High Court had on April 24 ruled in favor of HKTV after the company challenged the government’s 2013 decision to reject HKTV’s bid for a free-to-air TV broadcast license.
Describing the rejection of HKTV’s application as unlawful, the court ordered the Executive Council to reconsider its decision.
Following the ruling, an appeal can be lodged within 28 days — an option which the government has decided to exercise.
HKTV submitted a license application in 2009 and began producing information and entertainment programs as it expected to be granted a license one day.
Since the government had stated publicly that there would be no limit on the number of domestic free-to-air licenses to be issued, it should not set a limit on the number of such licenses if there are no technological or physical constraints, the court ruled.
With the government deciding to argue its case further, an appeals court may start a hearing as soon as within the next six months, given the urgency of the case, according to some lawyers.
HKTV chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay, on his part, said the company is seeking legal advice on the conduct of the appeal.
Charles Peter Mok, a lawmaker representing the information technology sector, said he was not surprised to learn about the government’s decision to lodge an appeal.
But the move will be against the public’s interests, he said, arguing that people want more choices in TV channels.
The government’s move appears to have a personal element, Mok said, suggesting that authorities want to keep Wong down.
Civic Party legislator Claudia Mo, a member of the Legco’s Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting, said the government’s appeal on the case is not only shocking but also disgraceful as public resources are being used to suppress a businessman.
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