SCED speaks on Asia Television Limited
Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, on Asia Television Limited (ATV) at a media session after attending Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK)'s Lunar New Year gathering today (February 15):
Reporter: What are the contingency measures in place in case RTHK has to take over before April 1, or way before it? And also ATV now is not broadcasting any news, so any punitive action against it?
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development: There are two questions. First question is: What is the contingency that has been built in to cater for the situation that ATV cannot deliver services until April 1. We have set up a working group, a cross-bureaux departmental working group last year already, looking at the broadcasting aspects. For that, we need both to terminate the short-term tenancies to recover those transmission sites as well as obtaining the spectrum in order for RTHK to deliver television services and also for HKTVE (HK Television Entertainment Company Limited), the new licence holder, to deliver the digital television services. I have to say that, so far as RTHK's broadcasting is concerned, RTHK has already followed established procedures in terms of procuring that service by way of tender. In the unfortunate event that ATV cannot deliver the service until April 1, I am afraid that there might be a gap involved because you simply cannot bypass the terms of the tender exercise. So therefore, to facilitate the whole process, if ATV cannot deliver the service, the proper course is to seek an early surrender of the licence in order to facilitate these other services by RTHK and HKTVE to be delivered. And your second question is?
Reporter: ATV is not airing any news anymore, so is basically violating the licence ...?
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development: You are correct. They are not really following right now some of the conditions of their licence. For that, the independent regulator, namely the Communications Authority, will look at the specific action involved to decide on the sanction. On the lighter side, there would be a warning. On the more heavy side there could have a suspension or revocation of the licence. For that, I invite you to look at sections 31, 32 and 33 of the Broadcasting Ordinance which lay out the established procedures, which will take time, and in any event the licence is due to expire on April 1. But I am sure the Communications Authority will look at what would be the appropriate course of action to take.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)