Hong Kong Government Approves 2 New TV Licenses, But Rejects HKTV

The Hong Kong government granted approval for two new free television broadcasting licenses to i-Cable’s Fantastic TV and PCCW’s HK Television Entertainment Company yesterday. In a surprise move, the government rejected the third license applicant, Ricky Wong’s (王維基) HKTV. Without clear explanation of why it approved only two out of the three license applications, the government’s decision quickly aroused public protest.

For years, TVB’s monopolistic position in the Hong Kong television broadcasting market remained unrivaled, with little competition from the flailing ATV. The 2009 Hong Kong Broadcasting Authority forum raised questions about the stations’ self-censorship practices, and later escalated into public outcry that the monopoly gave viewers little choice and low quality television programs. That same year, the Broadcasting Authority announced that it welcomed cable and satellite companies to apply for free broadcasting licenses to inject greater competition into the market.

Through 2011, the Broadcasting Authority received three free broadcasting licenses from HKTV, i-Cable’s Fantastic TV, and Richard Li’s (李泽楷) PCCW’s HK Television Entertainment Company. TVB challenged the license applications, citing that the Hong Kong market is too small to support additional free television stations as the universe of advertising revenue has fundamentally not grown. Although originally scheduled to make a decision by 2012, the government extended its license review process and delayed its decision by nearly a year.

Executive Council’s Decision is Final; No Appeals Will Be Heard

Secretary of the Commerce and Economic Development, Greg So (蘇錦樑), revealed that the Executive Council’s decision to approve only two of the license applications is final and there will not be any appeal mechanisms. The Executive Council took into account the consultant’s report, which advised that the local Hong Kong market can only sustain four free broadcasting television stations. Greg So said the review process was fair and based on the companies’ financial capacity, competitive assessment, public interest and programming options; he emphasized the decision was not motivated by any political factors.

Among the three license applications received, HKTV’s submission was cited to be the weakest, although it pledged to invest $1 billion HKD. In the next six years, i-Cable’s Fantastic TV will invest $1 billion HKD into its free broadcasting operations, and PCCW’s HK Television Entertainment Company will invest $600 million HKD. The government will conduct a mid-term review over its licensees six years later.

As for Ricky Wong pouring nearly $300 million HKD in HKTV operations to produce dramas in anticipation of the government’s approval, Greg So said that it was HKTV’s own investment decision. Asked about HKTV’s future chances in receiving a broadcasting license, Greg So replied that the government will continue to assess the local broadcasting market in future years.

Public Rallies Protest

Public outcry arose against the government’s rejection of HKTV’s license application. HKTV had pledged to produce high-quality dramas, and enticed viewers with preview clips of their completed projects. A Facebook page rallying support for HKTV attracted more than 248,000 people who protested the government’s decision. Netizens cried that the public has tolerated only two television stations for years and wished to choose a station of their own choice. The group plans to hold an online protest on Sunday.

Sources: ihktv.com; South China Morning Post

This article is written by Jayne for JayneStars.com.

Related Articles


  1. I wonder what long hair will do?if i was in hong kong i would be protesting on the streets. I sure hope the icac would launch a judicial enquiry into this matter but i seriously doubt it.

    1. ICAC should step in & see if there is any irregularity in the vetting process. Ricky Wong was also stupid enough for displaying abrasive behavior & extreme cockiness including being too vocal by declaring early on that his station will not be CCTV10….Why must you tell the whole world you are not toe-ing the line (as expected by Beijing) ? Be patient & obtain the licence first, then only speak your mind…wouldn’t that be a wiser thing to do? Personally, I think he had ruffled too many feathers, to a point of no return.

  2. Was looking forward to what HKTV will bring into the industry, gg.

  3. I suspect the best way to discover what happened to KHTV’s license would be to follow the money trail.

    1. One word: it begins with ‘cor’ and ends with ‘ruption’. I wonder which and how many dude(s) in the government received some “anonymous” deposits in their bank accounts from TVB?? Very disappointing indeed!!!

  4. i was looking forward to HKTV new dramas. This is a total travesty. I don’t believe this has nothing to do with politics, and i bet tvb had something to do with it. No appeal … i smell a dirty rat.

  5. ATV objects to new licenses
    (10-15 18:40)

    Asia Television said it objected to the issue of new free-to-air TV licenses to two operators today.
    The broadcaster added in a statement that it will consider further action.
    Meanwhile, Television Broadcasts (0511), the other free-to-air TV operator, said the government failed to specify how many more free TV stations could operate in the domestic market.

  6. sometimes benefits are not always reflected in simple liquid money.

    i wonder if it’s possible to buy ATV tv license or something.

    moreover, can’t he opt for online tv. since everybody is practically online these days? he could even take china an taiwan. if so, i hope he get someone to finance it.

    ps: i was extremely surprised to see these results. and also extremely upset… and yes, if i were in hong kong i would join the protesting.

    1. It’s hard to make money on online TV, but I do presume he’ll need to release them for other countries to at least recoup his expenses.

      1. I really doubt some HKTV series have been complete through with the on going legal battle… I dont want to watch if its half done and sloppy editing bits.

  7. There are not many people that wants to pay money for online TV or cable TV, so that is not an option.

    Even if people wants to pay money for online TV or cable TV, you can’t expect locally produced TV drama’s to be aired online or on cable. The costs of TV drama’s are very high, they can’t earn the money back by showing it online or on cable. The population of Hong Kong is too low for that.

  8. I was expecting to see them compete with TVB … I guess all those ex-TVB staff are going jobless… TVB now got the last laugh out of this!

    Good job to those who didn’t jump ship quickly.

    1. Guessed TVB for now, can depress the wages of their employees on its payroll, with the elimination of an aggressive competitor….TVB had the last laugh, after all. 🙁

  9. that’s pretty disappointing. i guess this means another decade of safe and boring TVB dramas about nothing. the year’s almost up and i only managed to finish two dramas: a change of heart and always and ever.

    guess they can always go the netflix route and distribute their stuff online, but if ricky wants to make some money back he probably has to sell the broadcast rights to NowTV or CableTV. I don’t see NowTV buying their stuff, especially with Lau Kar Ho/Miu Siu Ching leading creative.

  10. Extremely happy hktv did not get their license, but feel bad for the employees there, except for the arrogant Ricky. Saw the trailers, extremly boring and uninteresting

    1. Even if their shows were not your taste, competition would force TVB to do better. For that at least, everyone except TVB, should have hoped for them to get their license.

  11. they gave it to PCCW? so deeper pockets was the deciding factor?

    1. makes sense. Ricky basically sold his corp for cash to produce a bunch of dramas. The Li’s have seemingly unlimited cash flow, not to mention they publicly said they were going to focus on the mainland Chinese market. probably appeased a lot of people in HK gov’t.

  12. I. Am. Speechless.
    So much for a free Hong Kong with rights and a legitimate government.
    Ricky Wong poured so much money into that to make sure it would create jobs and fair compensation for artists. Not to mention the freedom to create series with limited to no restrictions on content/ideas.

    I wonder how much of that was a TVB bribe, and how much was the fact that he spoke out against goverment corruption/censorship?
    He needs to move his operation to the US or Canada or something and broadcast his shows from here.
    I seriously feel so bad for him right now and all the artists who stepped up to support him.
    May they all find a stable place to work in the future!
    I honestly hope he doesn’t give up his dream for a progressive, up-to-date tv network system.

    1. You are convinced that HKTV will be creating jobs but if they saturate the market. It will lead to divided advertising income for the com

      1. why on earth does TVB need all 780 million of the revenue??? They are the ones saturating up more than their share. that is why they do anything to keep the monopoly. the whole argument of a pie is just stupid because all the money doesnt need to go to just one corporation, they are getting more than their share, esp when they arent doing anything for television improvement with it.

  13. This decision is really shocking and bias. Obviously, HKTV has been predicted to become serious contender for TVB monopoly in drama department.

  14. Stupid, TVB is the big boss since many decades ago. they provide unlimited joy and happiness to the citizens. Good dont give license to HKTV. Dont want to watch their drama. Example that police boundaries. Story line is good, but actors and actress just not nice. Still TVB one the best!!!!

    1. Folks, again make sure your children stay away from TVB. Nothing good can come from watching too much IQ lowering, contrived regurgitated sibling backstabbing, and cray cray concubine melodrama sagas. The effects are hard to erase.

      1. Well, if you think you want to challenge big BOSS like TVB, do something out first and show it to the world. But not asking for license first. You think you can simply challenge big boss easily? Have you ever play video games? You have to went through it level by level before you can meet the big boss. Government wont simply grant you license to disturb big boss just by using money. Proof it out first somewhere else.

  15. ICAC should step in & see if there is any irregularity in the vetting process. Ricky Wong was also stupid enough for displaying abrasive behavior & extreme cockiness including being too vocal by declaring early on that his station will not be CCTV10….Why must you tell the whole world you are not toe-ing the line (as expected by Beijing) ? Be patient & obtain the licence first, then only speak your mind…wouldn’t that be a wiser thing to do? Personally, I think he had ruffled too many feathers, to a point of no return.

  16. corrupted obviously! How much did TVB pay the government to get this rejection?

    I want to watch more HKTV dramas. TVB will go out of business in 10 years with the super low quality from their productions. TVB dramas have no IQ – you only watch 1-5 episodes and you would already basically know everything. The only way that I can be wrong with my statement is that TVB does have a lot alot alot of power so therefore they can remain in business forever.

  17. I read this line in Golden Forum. Is it true?


    Translation: Today, newspaper report that, HKTV actual ranked the second among the 3 free license applicants in terms of performance.

    More conspiracy.

  18. Move to YouTube. If his series are great and people tune in he’d still make money by online advertisements. It’s the way to go right now anyway. People have DVR and can fast forward commercials on TV, you can’t do that on YouTube. I saw go with YouTube and create a Channel and generate sales up there.

    1. Youtube has very little margins for Ricky Wong size company.

      1. Agreed. TV is where the revenues are plus worldwide distributorship.

Comments are closed.