Deadline for HKCTV to accept licence renewal extended
The Government approved today (April 25) the request of Hong Kong Cable Television Limited (HKCTV) to extend the deadline to confirm acceptance and execution of the renewed domestic pay television programme service (pay TV) licence from April 26 to May 31, 2017.
A spokesman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB) said, "On April 18, 2017, HKCTV submitted to the Government that its holding company, i-CABLE Communications Limited (i-CABLE), would convene a shareholders meeting on or about May 31, 2017, to seek minority shareholders' approval of an equity injection proposal."
HKCTV noted that if the equity injection proposal is approved, it will result in an injection of approximately $1 billion of new equity into i-CABLE, which will to a significant extent reduce the financial uncertainty for HKCTV to consider acceptance of the renewed licence. However, owing to legal and regulatory requirements, the earliest possible date for the shareholders meeting will be at end-May. HKCTV therefore requested a further extension of the deadline to confirm acceptance of the renewed licence to May 31, 2017.
"We are of the view that the current situation of HKCTV is exceptional. As far as we know, i-CABLE's equity injection proposal has a critical bearing on whether or not HKCTV will continue operation after the expiry of its current licence. On the other hand, we are very concerned that in case the equity injection proposal is voted down, HKCTV may have to terminate its pay TV service at very short notice. As such, CEDB has required HKCTV to make proper arrangements to deal with this potential scenario. In this regard, HKCTV has made the relevant undertakings in respect of the arrangements for the TV signal distribution system in public and private housing, and matters relating to subscribers and employees," the spokesman said.
HKCTV has undertaken that in respect of households/premises in both public and private housing which are receiving a free TV signal through its signal distribution system, it will endeavor to ensure that the impact on the relevant households will be kept to a minimum; that it will safeguard employees' rights; and that if it declines to accept the renewed licence, it will refund the collected but unearned subscription fees to subscribers.
"Having considered all the relevant considerations, including the unique and exceptional circumstances that HKCTV now faces and the various undertakings it has made, we are of the view that allowing the deadline extension is a more tenable approach. At the same time, we consider that HKCTV should honour its undertakings and make public relevant contingency measures and arrangements as early as possible to alleviate public concerns," the spokesman said.
CEDB will continue to liaise with the Housing Department and keep a close watch on the TV signal feed issues of public housing estates, and refine the contingency plans with departments concerned. Meanwhile, the bureau has alerted the Labour Department of the situation of HKCTV so that it may render assistance to affected employees if needed. CEDB has also reminded HKCTV and i-CABLE that they have the corporate and contractual responsibility to honour the undertakings, and they are required to put in place contingency plans as well as exit arrangements and make known these measures and arrangements to the public and incorporated owners/building management offices of private buildings as early as possible.
HKCTV applied for renewal of its licence on May 29, 2015. The Chief Executive in Council approved the renewal application on December 13, 2016. The renewed licence has a period of validity of 12 years from June 1, 2017, to May 31, 2029.
Ends/Tuesday, April 25, 2017