"Disqualified person" applications by TVB approved
The Government today (August 16) announced that the Chief Executive (CE) in Council had approved the applications by Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) for Mr Li Ruigang, Dr Charles Chan, Mr Thomas Hui and Mr Mark Lee to exercise or to continue exercising control of TVB as "disqualified persons" under the Broadcasting Ordinance (BO).
Under the BO, no "disqualified person" shall exercise control of a domestic free television programme service (free TV) licensee unless approved otherwise by the CE in Council.
In its applications, TVB submitted that Mr Li Ruigang is a "disqualified person" by virtue of his being a non-executive director of WPP plc, which provides advertising agency services worldwide, and a director of another advertising agency (no English name; please refer to the Chinese version of the press release for the Chinese name) which operates in the Mainland. The "disqualified person" status of Dr Charles Chan, Mr Thomas Hui and Mr Mark Lee arise from their proposed appointments as directors of corporations influenced by Mr Li Ruigang and are thus associates in relation to a "disqualified person" (Note 1). The corporations involved include some member companies of the CMC Group (the CMC Group companies) (Note 2) which operate businesses in the media, entertainment, sports, internet and lifestyle sectors internationally or in the Mainland, as well as Shaw Brothers Holdings Limited (SBH) and Flagship Entertainment Group Limited (Flagship) which focus on the movie business.
A spokesman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said, "It is noted that the two advertising agencies in which Mr Li Ruigang holds directorships do not operate, or have much influence, in the Hong Kong market. TVB and SBH/Flagship/the CMC Group companies are also operating in different service markets.
"It is unlikely to bring negative impact in terms of the competition landscape of the television programme service market, editorial uniformity or media concentration should the four persons be allowed to hold dual directorships in TVB and the corporations concerned."
The spokesman added that the collaboration of TVB and SBH/Flagship/the CMC Group companies in the licensing of broadcast rights of movies, sports events, dramas and other programmes may enable TVB to improve the variety and quality of its programmes, bringing more diversified programme choices to viewers in Hong Kong.
He noted that the appointment of Mr Li as a non-executive director to the TVB board will contribute to cross-fertilisation of ideas, knowledge and experience in the broadcasting and film industry, and attract more media-related projects to be carried out in Hong Kong, bringing positive gains to the development of the local broadcasting and creative industries.
The co-directorship of Dr Charles Chan, Mr Thomas Hui and Mr Mark Lee in TVB and SBH/Flagship/the CMC Group companies may also be capable of creating opportunities and synergy for the development of the local broadcasting, film and creative industries in terms of investment, employment opportunities and development of talent, he said.
In processing the applications, the CE in Council considered all factors relevant to public interest, including the effect on competition in the relevant service market, the extent to which viewers will be offered more diversified television programme choices, the impact on the development of the broadcasting industry and overall benefits to the economy.
In relation to a free TV licence, a "disqualified person" includes another licensee under the BO, a sound broadcasting licensee, an advertising agency or a proprietor of a newspaper printed or produced in Hong Kong, as well as their controllers and associates. Therefore, under the BO, being a director of an advertising agency, or a director of a corporation influenced by a "disqualified person", is a "disqualified person" to exercise control of a free TV licensee.
Note 1: TVB has submitted that TVB and Shine Holdings Cayman Limited (Shine Holdings), which is a subsidiary of CMC Holdings Limited (CMC Holdings), forms a joint venture company (JVC) to acquire shares of Shaw Brothers Holdings Limited (SBH). Shine Holdings, CMC Holdings, JVC and SBH are influenced by Mr Li Ruigang and become associates of Mr Li. Dr Charles Chan and Mr Thomas Hui will be appointed as common directors of JVC and SBH, and Mr Mark Lee will be appointed as a director of SBH.
Separately, Mr Thomas Hui will also be appointed as a director of Flagship Entertainment Group Limited, CMC Holdings and another company (no English name; please refer to the Chinese version of the press release for the Chinese name). These three corporations are influenced by Mr Li Ruigang and become associates of Mr Li.
Note 2: Members of the CMC Group refer to CMC Holdings and another company (no English name; please refer to the Chinese version of the press release for the Chinese name).
Ends/Tuesday, August 16, 2016