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

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  1. Ricky needs to start up an HK version of HULU. I dont see any other way to escape the government red tape crack-down. I think many people would pay for that.
    His shows are targeted for a younger generation that are use to watching stuff on the pc or streamed to the TV, so there IS a market for it. That would make it easier for global distribution as well I would think.

    They wont let him go since he made them look bad and exposed their corruption.

    I hope he doesn’t back down & finds a way to make it work and all the naysayers jealous.

    1. @Panzer: I agree…and actually people have been giving him that same advice. The only thing is that he’s been very stubborn about his desire to provide free TV to HK audiences and changing the HK television landscape, which means that he has also been quite adamant about focusing on the HK market. I applaud his courage and perseverance (and will still support HKTV if they decide to continue fighting), but at the same time, it’s hard not to feel discouraged. Given the political and social landscape in HK right now, it’s pretty much going to be a fruitless battle for years to come…

      Not sure if anyone has been paying attention to all the stuff happening in HK lately, but this move by the CA is definitely ill-timed given the ‘sensitive’ nature of things. The HK public is already on edge over the CRHK debacle (which was viewed as the government cracking down on freedom of the press) as well as the ‘changing of the guard’ controversy at Mingpao coupled with the vicious attack on their chief editor Kevin Lau (sparking another massive protest a week ago over freedom of speech and freedom of the press)…now this issue with HKTV. The government sure isn’t looking good right now…

    2. There’s absolutely no way Ricky Wong will be able to start up a company like HULU in HK. China has the ability to ban any website as they wish, remember what happened to Google? Anyway, HULU is only available to the USA because they have a lot of legal and business issues they have to sort out before its available worldwide. I can’t see Ricky Wong’s HKTV having the ability to sort through all that legal mess with China or even overseas when they can’t even get a license to air their tv shows locally or even online.

      If I were Ricky Wong I would cut my loses now and invest into movies. The movie industry in HK is the only way he can make a profit while offering the viewers quality entertainment. But I can see China’s influence in that area as well so it might not work out either way.

      1. Interestingly, I just read a recent interview of Charlene Choi’s and even she as a movie actress feel quite helpless when it comes to Hong Kong’s Films because now Hong Kong Production must collaborate with Mainland China. She expressed that by doing so, it actually limits what kind of topics can be filmed. China now also have lots of influence in movie but I hope if Ricky goes into the movie market, he will still focus on the Hong Kong market. I just don’t enjoy a Hong Kong X China collaboration as much as I did watching a pure Hong Kong movie.

      2. Movies are a even worse investment as you have to meet SARFT’s content standards.

        He should just sell his series and try to recoup the money as much as possible. He won’t be able to start up a OTT network in China and even if he chooses to launch it from elsewhere, the start-up costs are immense. It costs the WWE $20 million to launch their network and the NBA pays $30 million a year to air games online via League Pass/Neulion.

      3. “now Hong Kong Production must collaborate with Mainland China.”

        Why does HK production MUST collaborate with Mainland China? Why can’t HK productions make movies like Thor , Lord of the Ring..etc and they still make tons of money in China and everywhere in the world.

        “Movies are a even worse investment as you have to meet SARFT’s content standards.”

        Again, why don’t HK make movies for the world. Tons of movies made in the outside of China and can still make tons of money in China. HK can do the same.

      4. When was the last time Hong Kong made movies for the world? It did not happen recently.

      5. Tom: It’s because of MONEY! It’s no secret that artists from HK and Taiwan have been heading north for the gold in the last few years. Producers and directors are doing the same thing, they can easily get more funding in China than HK because the market is so much bigger. However by getting funds in China means they must make movies appropriate for the Mainland audience which does limit their creativity.

      6. I’m happy that Pang Ho Cheung still make movies for HK as priority.

      7. “Movies are a even worse investment as you have to meet SARFT’s content standards”

        You are joking right? SARFT isn’t only limited to movies, it also regulates media, press, tv and radio. May I remind you that movies in Hong Kong has 3 levels (or technically 4 since there’s IIA and IIB). Whereas tv series is much more restricted, hence why we don’t see as much violence, sexual and/or sensitive topics. Also, tv series produced in HK are widely shown on websites/tv whereas movies are a different story. Some movies are only restricted to be shown in Hong Kong. Whether its a bad investment or not there’s simply not enough facts or figures to support your theory.

      8. Kidd: Oh yes, Pang Ho Cheung is one of the few director/producer that still focuses on HK. I’m glad that Chapman (one of Pang Ho Cheung’s good friend) recently said that he will also be producing 4-5 films mainly for the HK market. He is using the local artist such as Charlene Choi, Fiona Sit, Simon Yau, etc. Reading his interview, he sound very passionate about producing movies targeting only the Hong Kong’s audience. The local artists are also taking a huge pay cut for the films because the budget is much lower but I have great confident in Chapman’s upcoming films. He won’t be acting in it but he’ll be producing, directing, and doing as much as he can behind the scene.

  2. It’s disappointing to see that the Office of Communications Authority has made things even more difficult for HKTV.

    And I do not feel sad for Sunny and them because they knew well in advance, that HKTV is “very green” in terms of getting their content shown. I also feel that he should have taken one step at a time, seems like he rushed things.

    But good luck.

    1. I do feel sorry for the artists too because they decisions were judged by the market and audience. If they got to air their work and the audience didn’t like them. Hktv then goes down because of that, then I don’t feel sorry, but this is not the case. The HK govt, for whatever reason, is denying a young energetic and sincere effort to provide for the market. That is sad. This is why all those rankings of Hk being the best for business should take this case in account. This is no longer the HK of the old.

      1. I meant to say the artists decisions WEREN’t given a chance to be judged by the market.

      2. True, the artistes’ decisions weren’t given a chance to be judged by the market. But Ricky Wong made this company from scratch, from nothing into “something”. Hence, in many areas, they are very new and it was highly risky as well..

      3. its time for a revolution,hk ppl should stand up against their corrupted government!

      4. For heaven’s sake it is only a TV station. There are better causes and better reasons for a revolution than 1 TV station.

      5. I don’t necessarily agree. On the very basic level, it may be just “one television station” but I think there is more to it.

        Although China keeps on saying its “one country, two systems”, I do not think this is the case for HK and China. HK is slowly becoming like China. It’s no longer “two systems”, rather ONE system controlled by ONE country.

        If the people living in HK want to maintain their “democratic” government instead of the government being controlled by China or being a puppet government, the HK citizens need to step it up.

      6. Totally agree with Bubblez that it is one country and one system. But these are communists here,so why should any of us be shocked? They would say one thing and do another.

      7. They would say one thing and do another.
        Not surprised at all!!

      8. well said bubbles,to maintain the justice and democracy in hk,we need a revolution like what my lord sun yat sen did with the corrupted @ing dynasty.

      9. There couldn’t be a better cause/reason for revolution than freedom of speech, freedom to broadcast, freedom of thought. And since China – and it seems the HK government – stands for none of the three things mentioned, a revolution is not unreasonable.

      10. @Bubblez
        I get what you mean by business risk. I really don’t understand what reasons the HK Authorities would not let him launch his channel, while moving to renew ATV’s license. Ricky was a former industry executive for many years. He’s using his own money and launching his own shows. What else is there for him to do? I’m not Ricky Wong fan nor a TVB hater, but I feel bad because we see HK entertainment lagging further behind Korea, Japan, and soon Mainland China because the government let opportunities like this to shake up the industry slip by because of some bureaucratic technicality.

        HK is a young democracy. I’m sure there are a lot of issues to be sorted out for it to function like other mature democracies. The people have to keep the pressure on the government because one thing is certain: power corrupts.

      11. Yes, some may view it as just a TV station, but as I said earlier, others may view it as a freedom of speech and freedom of the press issue — especially at this volatile time when there have already been a few major events that occurred where people feel their freedoms are being taken away….for them, this just adds insult to injury.

        Just like what Power Chan said last year when he attended the HKTV protest — he’s not there to support HKTV, but rather, he’s there to protect his and his family’s freedom…if the government could treat the license thing as a ‘black box’ operation, they could very well do the same with other issues that affect ordinary citizens.

  3. Why do I have feeling that HK government only want TVB to monopoly?. Really bad..

    1. I feel the same way. It seems like the HK government truly wants TVB to monopolize the TV industry in HK. I feel bad for HKTV and Ricky. He goes through one obstacle after another and there seems no end to this battle. I really hope he is persistent and does nit give up. I hope he succeeds and gives the Hk government and everyone that doubts him a big slap in the face!

      1. I agree, too, that it has something to do with the Government of Hong Kong …….. probably political problems with Mainland China.

        I feel sorry for HKTV.

    2. I also sort of see this as “payback” by the Communications Authority for all the criticism they got the past few weeks at the public consultation sessions for TVB and ATV’s license renewals (that whole thing was a farce in and of itself, but quite interesting to watch nonetheless). Most of the ordinary HK citizens who attended the sessions were quite relentless in their criticism of the 2 stations (ATV especially got hit HARD) and the CA got dragged through the mud as well (though some of the points the people brought up were truly valid).

      I’ll be curious to see what happens next… if ATV ends up getting their license renewed despite FAILING in all 3 categories of track record, financial strength, and public opinion, then I basically have nothing else to say about this government at that point…

      1. Yes,the HK government really is no longer the same after returning to China. I really wonder was HK better under British rule? It sure felt that way and it is so sad that HK does not seem like how it used to be. I actually like ATV but it feels like it has fallen apart and all, so if they do get their license renewed then that does show something about the HK government.

      2. Hong Kong wasnt even better when it was in British control.

      3. There was an informal poll done…
        “Hong Kong legislator and political activist Leung Kwok-hung, known by his nickname “Long Hair,” said that while the poll wasn’t a scientific survey, it gave a snapshot of public sentiment towards Beijing in the years since the 1997 handover to Chinese rule.

        “Hong Kong people feel that [their own] government is doing a worse job than it was during British rule,” Leung said.

        “If you were to ask them whether they were better off before the handover, the answer would probably be that things were a bit better.””


      4. @Larry3: How do you know that HK wasn’t ‘better’ under British control? At the very least, under British rule, HK didn’t have to worry about freedom of speech or freedom of the press issues — those are 2 core values that define HK and if those are taken away, then HK is truly dead.

        Also, the business climate was better back then and the government actually supported business growth — that’s part of the reason why the entertainment industry was able to thrive and flourish back then. Ever since the return to China, HK’s business environment has gotten worse and worse…

        Sure, the question of whether things were better or not can be quite subjective depending on who you talk to, but for those of us who have experienced both HK under British rule as well as HK under China rule, I’m sure we can tell you where the significant differences lie.

      5. HK’ers tend to equate democracy (basic freedom of rights) with unbridled capitalism. The fact of the matter is that HK was not and is not a democracy.

        When HK was a British colony, it did not have a constitution as such to provide the citizenry all the basic rights. It had to go by whatever the “Mother Country” said. The incidents in the mid-to late 60s when British troops were deploy to quell riots and demonstrations underscored this.

        One thing the Brits did right was to provide an unbridled capitalistic economic infrastructure under which HK did thrive. But this was more self-serving as ‘Mother Country’s sole purpose for her colonies was to squeeze every drop of economic goods from those whom she controlled.

      6. llwy12… come on! Hong Kong was really rough back then, regardless of freedom of speech. It is corrupted government back then and still is now.

      7. @Larry 3: ‘Better’ doesn’t mean ‘not corrupted’. Of course we know that all governments are corrupted to some extent and the British government back then was no exception. And as Terminator pointed out, alot of what the previous government did was self-serving and not out of truly caring for the people — but regardless of intent, at least they allowed HK to thrive and created an environment where most HKers felt comfortable and felt that their freedoms were being respected (even if in reality, they really weren’t). THAT’S really the difference….

      8. Have you lived through the 80s and early 90s? It wasn’t a better living environment back then especially for many people immigrated to other Western countries made some “best” decisions.

      9. @Larry3: Huh? Your comment doesn’t even make sense. Are you saying that it wasn’t a better living environment in HK therefore HKers had to immigrate to other countries or are you saying that HKers who immigrated to other countries had to live in a poor environment? By the way — perhaps it’s the way you worded your comment, but I really don’t see how your comment has anything to do with the government (be it current or previous) suppressing certain freedoms and rights. Not really sure what your point is…

      10. ” It wasn’t a better living environment back then especially for many people immigrated to other Western countries made some “best” decisions.”

        that’s not always true. Things weren’t always that better in western countries. People still faced hardship, discrimination, and whatnot. So was it really a “better living environment”? I am not too sure.

        And just speaking on Canada alone, this news ( really hits home and shows that even to this day, there are families out there who affected by these hardships or the bad living conditions and that some governments are trying to redress some of the injustices…

      11. There are reasons why hk people are feeling worse now compared to 30-40 years ago. One is nostalgia. The past is alway remembered fondly. Ask anyone who enjoyed their army days.
        Two, the hk economy was in its growth phase 30-40 years ago. Similar to the stage china is experiencing, there was expanding opportunities everywhere. Today, hk is a mature economy that is really dominated by a handful of powerful families. People in the working class is seeing their jobs shipped elsewhere.
        Third, hk people actually has to govern themselves now. There are many nuances of government that they must concern themselves with that was taken care of while they were a colony. We are all taught democracy is a good thing, but once you have to be in the trenches day in and day out, you find out it is not easy. So people romanticize the old days of being a child where the parents took care of them and they get to eat every night and grow six inches over the summer.

      12. ^HeShouWu

        You have made some very good points about what is illusion and what is reality. Yes, self-determination and governing could be messy; in a twisted way, it would be easier to have someone else do it for you as long as you don’t mind them lording over you at the same time.

        Ironically, the rise of HK 30-40 years ago corresponded to its role as the sole intermediary to China, who was shut out from the world stage. Now as China ascending into the world stage, HK’s role has become increasingly diminished.

        Just yesterday, Ali Baba, a Chinese e-commerce company, announced that it will be directly listed in the NYSE as opposed to the HK Stock Exchange as many had expected.

  4. Stupid ricky,lousy ceo ,he deserved to be sacked by cti board of shareholder

  5. In spite of all the obstacles, Ricky didn’t give up yet. I commend him for his perseverance, and hope he’ll find a way to broadcast his dramas for the sake of the artists.

  6. Ricky… poor business model. HKTV is doom, say thank you to the Communist China!

    Those HKTV artists, better have a plan B if you to stay on the sinking shipwreck.

    1. Looking more like native hong konger screw it own native hong konger

  7. Ricky should just give up TV. Why not make movies for HK and overseas market? I know he can’t do anything about mainland market since it appears he has problem with the authority.

    1. this is ricky’s dream to provide hk ppl good drama’s,i hope he will succeed in the end because i still believe there are justice in hk.

      1. Ricky has a great dream but POOR execution. He should have know the corrupted Hong Kong government and communist China that the buck stops here. Ricky would better off Occupy Hong Kong and try to overthrow the CE.

  8. AHAHAHAHAHAH this is his fault anyway he brought this downfall to himself … if he didn’t bark in the first place… the situation wont be as bad.

  9. i think TVB is not scared of the government .It probably the other way…another word they have a money relationship

    1. if HKTV allows to succeed it mean having a mad crazy dog. For example nowtv and icable know when to be silence or learn to walk away .While Hktv will be arrogant and be uncontrollable.

  10. @Bubblez
    Even hong Kong is able to step up and able to revolt from the china government how long can they last for ?.1 year ,3 year or more then 10 year? without the support from china. if that happen then the citizen in hk will always protest all day to get what they want? In the world we are living you cant get what you want..

    i am not saying you wrong but over the years some hk citizen just got out of hands and always demand that and that. it a good thing to speak up however they are just being a nuisance.

    1. i agree too much freedom will cause more trouble and nuisance towards this world eg america allowing people to keep gun ,next moment we count the bodies of the victim who died from it.

  11. He should look at other businesses feel sorry for him spending all his money

  12. So disappointed…I was really looking forward to higher quality dramas…

    1. same here…i don’t hate TVB…But more choice is definite benefit us!

  13. Why is Hong Kong trying so hard to run this company and all its employees into the ground…they’re just trying to work.

    1. Everyone on this earth is just trying to work (not just HK), but hey, life is not simple- and most times it’s us humans making it difficult for one another…if only people don’t make such the effort to be harsh to one another all the time, this world might be a better place to live in really..

  14. Ricky Wong is not a very smart or responsible CEO if he doesn’t even know or hired someone who knows the rules of HK’s Broadcasting Rules. He definitely let his investors and employees down but doing first then thinking second.

    Does Ricky Wong think his company is above the law? Does he think he can go to any country and start a Broadcasting company without knowing and following their laws?


  15. I’m confused. Did the law change recently or did Ricky Wong knew about it beforehand? When did the under 5000 subscribers rule come into play?

  16. How stupid and invalid request. It’s another attempt to block HKTV from the market. Really, how do you block internet viewership? 5000 subscribers? Really??? First come first serve? Lottery? Seriously, HK Communications Authority!! You’re a joke at your attempt to limit programmings to HK viewers by not giving them options to choose. At this point, no matter what Ricky Wong does, he will hit a brick wall at very turn. Even if he offers to send his productions to individual households for free, i bet HKCA will set a limit of how many freebies and how often he can hand out lol

    1. Well, now the issue has just gotten more complicated because apparently, the laws regarding mobile vs broadcast television are ‘unclear’ — even legal experts are saying that there is no way to prove either side wrong because it’s a legal grey area that has never been explored before.

      And even though the CA keeps insisting that they are not ‘targeting’ any particular party, lawmakers are now saying that the whole issue of whether HKTV will be broadcasting in the CMMB or DTMB format is a direct infringement of the government’s “technology neutral” principle (meaning that the government is not supposed to get involved when it comes to technology issues) — so now the CA is coming under fire for putting the government in a sensitive position.

      So at this point, it looks like the only option is to let the court settle it, since there’s no way to prove that Ricky Wong broke the law while at the same time, no one can say for sure that the CA is absolutely wrong for using the 5000 households thing as an excuse for putting the issue under ‘Broadcasting Ordinance’ jurisdiction.

      1. mmm…things are becoming too complicated now,but i hope ricky will win this law case because it is not only his problem now but also which path hk shall walk in the future.

      2. The situation looks even more dismal now, as it appears that the government has taken further steps to stop Ricky Wong for good.

        Right now, all the experts are saying that the government is being unreasonable because they are forcing Ricky Wong to use an outdated format to broadcast (CMMB is VCD level quality and is rarely used now because of the poor quality)…I like the way one of the experts put it — it’s similar to a son wanting to buy the newest version iPhone but his dad is forcing him to buy a Nokia phone from 10 years ago instead…

        To make matters worse…not only that, the CA issued another statement saying that if in the future, someone develops technology that is able to transmit the outdated format to more than 5000 households, they (the CA) are still going to ‘go after’ HKTV and force them to change format or get a Ricky Wong is pretty much screwed either way. It looks like he is going to take the matter to court, but that doesn’t look promising either, especially when you have a government as corrupted as this one. So I guess his only option at this point is to try his luck elsewhere…

  17. This is getting a little ridiculous. Everyone keeps supporting HKTV, but he is adamantly looking for a loophole to get his foot into the same market.

    Those of you keep complaining about TVB and the HK Government, constantly criticising them for being corrupt and “communist”, how many of you are using illegal sources to stream and watch TVB series or other media online?

    Get off your high horses if you are some of those, and I believe for a matter of fact majority of you are not paying a dime for it.

    1. This is not about TVB. Most of us are TVB fans, but this issue reveals some contradictions in the CAs rules and process that is important to the integrity of the government. Whether the government is trying to silence freedom of speech is important to hk citizens.
      As for whether you are paying for content right now, speak for yourself. You’re the only one claiming moral high ground here. That’s a Strawman you created that has nothing to do with the article.

      1. I believe I am right in pointing out how people on here are using “moral high grounds” and questioning the government’s integrity. They themselves should be judged as with you.

        What do we know about the rules and legislations in Hong Kong? Who would know better than the legislators themselves? If Mr Ricky Wong wants to appeal via the legal route he could do so. If the court proves he has a valid point, we can see the truth and condemn the government.

        All this nonsense about freedom of press and speech as pointed out by terminator and other posters, it never existed in HK until the handover to China. Not a single Hong Kong person could man handle a police officer or write bad about the government and not suffer repercussion before under British rule.

        My household pays for TVB abroad just for your information.

        Every point is related to the article, it relates to the people who constantly seeks to challenge order when things do not go their way. That is the truth people cannot accept. That is the so called freedom.

  18. Wow I had no idea Sunny signed with HKTV, I thought he was signed to TVB on a per series contract to care for his son. As for Deno, it’ll be a shame if he leaves though…he’s one of the underrated actors that have talent and was not given the opportunity to shine.

  19. this is just so sad for people who want to watch HKTV. add oil Ricky!

  20. I feel bad for some of the artists and employees, but I don’t get the overreaction of some of these artists. There’s always nowtv and icable they can try and go to.

    Ricky was loud with ideas, but seemed to have some poor execution and communication skills to actually get the job done. It’s obvious the gov’t doesn’t care about giving him the license so he must have stepped on too many toes. Isn’t he some hot shot businessman? He seems to have so many flaws in his plans with all the legalities and also the overspending on poaching, then firing, then rehiring, then halting production, etc. He needs to bring someone in to be the new face of his company and listen to outside advice if he ever wants the series to be shown (paid or unpaid).

  21. Does the HK government really have something against Ricky Wong?

    It really feels like HK government want to kill HKTV completely.

    1. Ricky Wong BS the government when they start issuing the tv license years ago. He also BS the mainland Communist China. Of course they want HKTV to DIAF…

      1. I think Ricky Wong got what he deserved for making fun of TVB. Serve him right…

      2. Regardless he made fun of TVB, that is very small price to pay. Its the government that is the issue. HKTV company is really on life support.

  22. HAHAHAHA A lot of people from tvb who used be in tab all the time but now…………………a half of tab actors went to HKTV SO SAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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