Govt ordered to review decision to deny HKTV free-to-air license

April 24, 2015 18:57
Ricky Wong hopes the Executive Council will grant HKTV a free-to-air TV license as soon as possible. Photo: HKEJ

The High Court found in favor of Hong Kong Television Network (01137.HK) Friday in a judicial review of the government's rejection of HKTV's application for a broadcast license.

The court ordered the Executive Council to reconsider its 2013 decision on the domestic free-to-air television (FTV) license. 

Prior to 2013, the government had stated publicly there would be no limit on the number of domestic FTV licenses to be issued, given that the objectives of its broadcasting policy are to broaden program choice, encourage innovation and maintain Hong Kong’s competitiveness, the court said.

Therefore, it should not set a limit on the number of FTV licenses if there are no technological or physical constraints, the court ruled.

HKTV chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay said he was delighted by the court's ruling. 

The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said it is figuring out the next step to take.

In October 2013, the Executive Council announced its decision to grant only two FTV licenses, to units of PCCW Ltd. (00008.HK) and i-CABLE Communications Ltd. (01097.HK), on top of the two existing licenses held by Television Broadcasts Ltd. (00511.HK) and Asia Television Ltd. 

The government said there was no room to grant one more FTV license, as Hong Kong's market is not big enough to support five TV broadcasters.

More than 100,000 protesters gathered in front of government headquarters in Admiralty at the time, demanding a review of the decision. But the government did not budge. 

Wong eventually sought a judicial review in January last year.

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