HKTV Suspends Production Over Possible Broadcast License Violation
HKTV is once again facing a daunting challenge in their quest to provide free television programming to Hong Kong citizens. Originally slated to launch on July 1, the TV start-up has now delayed the big day indefinitely after Hong Kong’s Communications Authority ruled that HKTV must guarantee that its broadcast signal will be received by less than 5,000 households in order to continue under its current mobile license. Otherwise, the company must apply for a free-to-air broadcast license or a pay television license before resuming operations.
More than three years in the making, HKTV generated massive local interest amidst the declining quality of recent television productions. Despite its grand promises and aggressive marketing, the Hong Kong government rejected its free-to-air license application on October 15, 2013. The following weekend, tens of thousands of local citizens stormed the streets in protest.
Although feeling defeated, chairman Ricky Wong (王維基) later decided to continue with his project. He re-hired former employees, and acquired China Mobile Hong Kong and its mobile television license in order to turn his business into an online streaming platform. The company submitted plans to build additional broadcast towers to strengthen its signals, using technology that would cover the majority of households within Hong Kong. Additional artists signed on and programming expanded. The station was getting ready to launch on July 1.
On March 11, HKTV received notice regarding the possible violation of the local Broadcast Ordinance. The company later released a statement saying they will halt all new production while they obtain answers from the government. There are currently no plans to lay off any employees, and production on existing series will continue as usual. However, this latest hiccup will affect the original launch date. With no viable solution, there is no telling when the station will launch or whether it will launch at all.
HKTV artist Frankie Lam (林文龍), who has been an outspoken supporter of the station, finds the situation ridiculous and criticizes the government’s response to the matter. “Shouldn’t the government promote business opportunities and give its citizens a way to make a living? If the problem is with Ricky Wong, why doesn’t [the government] negotiate with him directly? Instead it has been nit-picking and holding us back from everything.” Seemingly upset about the situation, Frankie declared that he no longer feels at home in Hong Kong and may consider immigrating elsewhere with his family.
Sunny Chan (陳錦鴻), who signed a four-year contract with HKTV late last year, also expressed frustration and disappointment. Originally scheduled to begin filming in April, Sunny may now be out of work. Since he wants to remain in Hong Kong to care for his autistic son, he has no plans to look for projects in China and is still optimistic about his future at HKTV.
Unlike Sunny, Rain Lau (劉玉翠) and Deon Cheung (張松枝) sound more helpless about the news. With her contract expiring at the end of this month, Rain was in talks over a renewal but she is not sure if she will be invited to stay given this recent development. Luckily she already has a Mainland and a local series lined up so she will still be able to pay the bills. Deon however sees slimmer pickings. He is uncertain about his next steps after his contract expires in May though vows that he will never return to TVB, saying that he will probably leave the entertainment industry for good if everything fails.
Source: Ming Pao
This article is written by Katrine for JayneStars.com.