SCED's opening remarks at press conference on domestic free television programme service licences
Following is the opening remarks by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the press conference on domestic free television programme service licences today (April 1):
Now I would like to repeat in English the key points of my announcement for the benefit of our friends in the English media.
The Chief Executive (CE) in Council today (April 1) has determined two domestic free television programme service (free TV) licence applications, one from Asia Television Limited (ATV) for renewal of its licence expiring on November 30 this year and another from HK Television Entertainment Company Limited (HKTVE) for its application for a new free TV licence which was approved-in-principle (AIP) back in October 2013.
In relation to ATV's application, after considering the recommendations of the Communications Authority (CA), the relevant representations and all relevant latest developments, the CE in Council today decided not to renew ATV's licence. Since the law requires that a 12-month notice period has to be given to ATV for the CE in Council's non-renewal decision, ATV will have its licence extended to April 1, 2016, which is 12 months from now.
We are conscious of the views as expressed by certain members of the public that CE in Council should have taken a decision in respect of ATV's renewal application last year upon CA's submission of its recommendations. In fact, over the past few months, the Government has been acutely aware of the developments surrounding ATV. Since it is necessary for the purpose of legal procedural fairness to give ATV reasonable time to submit a concrete restructuring programme on its "planned transformation" as referred to in the letter from ATV's court-appointed managers to the CE in Council this January, the CE in Council earlier imposed a deadline of March 31, 2015 for ATV to submit concrete implementation details. ATV however failed to do so by the "deadline", and the CE in Council today has made a non-renewal decision based on all information available to him. The CE in Council also considered the request in the submission for the extension of the deadline and the information made available this afternoon, but was not satisfied that a sufficient case has been put forward to justify any further extension of time.
This is the first time in the local broadcasting history that an incumbent's broadcasting licence is not renewed. The Government will set up a task force, to be chaired by the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Communications and Technology) and comprising representatives from bureaux/departments concerned, to see to the speedy resolution of various issues that might arise from the non-renewal of ATV's Licence. The task force will coordinate implementation of necessary contingency measures during the transitional period to minimise any adverse impact that might occur. As part of the contingency measures, we have invited RTHK to study providing another programme channel in analogue format to provide our audience an alternative choice.
Following the grant of the AIP back in October 2013, the CE in Council, on the CA's recommendations, today has decided to formally grant a free TV licence to HKTVE, the validity of which will run from today for 12 years until March 31, 2027, subject to a mid-term review in 2021. HKTVE's new free TV service will be delivered via fixed network. Its integrated Cantonese channel and integrated English channel will commence within 12 months and 24 months respectively after the grant of licence. For viewers served by In-building Co-axial Cable Distribution System (IBCCDS in short), they, after upgrading of IBCCDS, may use Integrated Digital TV (iDTV) sets (or digital terrestrial television decoders) for receiving HKTVE's programmes. We hope that HKTVE's entry into the free TV market will benefit our audience-at-large with more quality programming choices.
I now pass the time to the CA Chairman. We will afterwards take questions from the floor.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015