Monday, October 21, 2013

NEWS ARTICLE: Calls for government to explain denial of free-TV licence to HKTV mount

Here’s the latest article that came out today on the licensing issue.  As I’m sure everyone has heard by now, the protest against the lack of transparency in the government’s license issuance decision took place yesterday (there were actually 2 groups that organized the protest – HKTV staff as well as non-HKTV affiliated labor group).  The turnout for the protest was very strong – the ‘official’ estimate was that, at one point, there were close to 120,000 people who joined the rally in front of government headquarters.   In addition to many of the HKTV artists and behind the scenes personnel, there were many industry people who also joined the protest – it’s important to note that many of the non-HKTV affiliated people joined the protest not because they support HKTV or Ricky Wong, but because they felt that their basic rights as HK citizens were being violated with the way the government handled the free license decision….either way, both groups had a common goal:  demanding that the government show some accountability for their actions and provide a thorough explanation as to how they came up with their decision to issue only two licenses versus three.

As a Hong Konger myself, I would like to express how proud I was yesterday seeing so many of my fellow Hong Kongers coming together and putting up a united front against the government in the hopes of protecting our city’s important core values.   As I’ve said before on my blog and elsewhere, this issue has now gone beyond merely an ‘entertainment industry’’s no longer about whether HKTV gets a license or not – rather, it’s about protecting our basic rights as HK citizens from a seemingly ‘corrupt’ government that has no respect for its own people (and of course, there’s the bigger political issue of the Mainland government controlling HK and having a hand in the decision).

At the end of the day, it will be interesting to see how this issue pans out, especially given the tremendous pressure that the public has placed on the government to explain their decision.  In fact, even the legislators and other politicians in government who weren’t involved in the decision are pushing for the Executive Council as well as the Chief Executive to give a thorough explanation (the part I found the most interesting was where it stated in the article that most of the legislators in government were in favor of issuing all 3 licenses…well, at least that’s what they claim….).

Basically, it looks like new information is coming out practically every day on this issue, though of course we all know that the issue won’t truly be ‘over’ until the government actually responds to the public’s request for an explanation.  Let’s see how long this issue drags out (though for the sake of the HKTV employees who are or will be out of a job, I hope this issue ends quickly so that they can get the proper closure they need to move on with their lives).


Calls for government to explain denial of free-TV licence to HKTV mount

Source:  South China Morning Post

More current and former executive councillors are urging the government to explain its rejection of Hong Kong Television Network's bid for a free-to-air television licence, as consensus builds across the political spectrum that a third licence should be granted.

The mounting pressure comes as HKTV staff continue their sit-in outside government headquarters after a march brought tens of thousands of protesters to Tamar on Sunday.

Calls for an explanation came from Exco member Starry Lee Wai-king and former Exco member Henry Tang Ying-yen, while executive councillor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee suggested HKTV could appeal.

The government, meanwhile, issued its sixth statement - including officials' public speeches - since its controversial announcement last week granting licences to i-Cable's Fantastic TV and PCCW's Hong Kong Television Entertainment but not to Ricky Wong Wai-kay's HKTV.

It reiterated its stock position that the decision included "no political consideration" and was made after the assessment of "all relevant factors".

Pan-democrats have shown support for a joint petition planned by pro-government lawmaker James Tien Pei-chun to press for a licence for HKTV.

But at the same time they are seeking to invoke the Legislative Council's special powers to demand official documents behind the government's deliberations.

Tien called the letter, to be submitted to the chief executive and Exco, the "swiftest way" to resolve the saga.

"I have not heard from any parties that oppose the issue of all three licences so far," Tien said.

"If [Legco] were to investigate, it would take months ... If a licence is granted to HKTV now, staff can go back to work."

Pan-democrats including members of the Civic Party and Democratic Party said they supported Tien's proposal "in principle", depending on the final wording of the letter.

The 27-member camp is seeking to invoke the Legco (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance through the information technology and broadcasting panel to force the disclosure of all documents submitted by the administration to Exco, including consultancy reports.

Lee, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the government should consider disclosing further details despite HKTV's pending judicial review.

She said the party would decide on the powers and privileges invocation after hearing officials' explanation at next month's IT panel meeting.

Suggesting an appeal by HKTV, Ip, of the pro-government New People's Party, said: "The Exco receives a lot of appeal pleas. We would carefully consider a request from the failed applicant."

Fellow party member Michael Tien Puk-sun said he "cannot see why" he should vote down the pan-democrats' motion for an inquiry "if the government remains silent and refuses to disclose more information".

Tang, who spent 14 years on Exco, said the government owed the public an explanation.

The confidentiality rule did not mean the government had to keep the rationale behind the issuing of licences confidential, he said.

Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said the government had to evaluate whether it should reverse the rejection.

"The government has its own reasons … but it has to consider whether they are sufficiently important that it cannot change its original decision," he said.

Civil servants were surprised by the decision, as all the paperwork for three licences had been submitted to Exco.

"The bureau did the work and all the efforts were wasted," Federation of Civil Service Unions chief executive Leung Chau-ting said.

Video: HKTV supporters gather at Hong Kong government to protest against failed licence bid for second night


  1. CY addressed the issue earlier and from the way he's speaking it doesn't look like he'd move anytime soon. The easiest way for the gov to solve this issue is just release HKTV's license rather than having to go through all this trouble! I thought the China/HK government had bigger political concerns on their hands than some tv license. But looks like there is certainly some political decision behind it.

    Really hope HKTV prevails and wins their case in the end!

    1. @sport3888: Yup...not only that, Ricky Wong already responded as well with a press conference and statement. He said that C.Y. Leung's statement this morning is disappointing (CY pretty much reiterated what Greg So said last week, which was basically a bunch of B.S.) and that after getting legal advice, he will be moving forward with judicial review. He also encouraged the HKTV staff still stationed in front of government headquarters to go home and rest in preparation for the battle ahead.

      To be honest, it sort of looks to me like RW is giving up the fight and seeking legal measures instead -- which means that this issue will continue to get held up for a couple months. Besides, even if RW were to win judicial review (which he has a high chance of doing), that just means that the process will start all over again in that the situation will go back to the Executive Council for review and they would have to consider whether to maintain the decision or change it....the end result will likely be the same....

      The ironic thing is that all of the government leaders claim that they were in favor of 3 licenses, but were overruled by the ExCo members and CY Leung who only wanted to issue 2 basically, as long as CY Leung is in power, the result will likely be the same (especially since we all know that CY is the Mainland Communist Party's puppet).

      Looks like us small peon regular citizens will never be a match for big powerful corrupted governments. Sad!

    2. This is sad is there any hope of RW ever getting a license within these few years? I do hope he'll have a good plan to continue filming dramas and release them in a way that will balance out cost and revenue. Sad that there's no way he can make enough money just from internet airing. If he could then things would be so much easier. The end result might be becoming a paid channel :/ I'm sure if his dramas are that good, people will be wiling to pay just to watch especially overseas people.

    3. @sport3888: Unfortunately, no -- looks like RW doesn't have a chance of ever getting a free TV license as long as C.Y. Leung is in charge. By not even giving RW a chance to appeal the decision, CY and his cronies are basically shutting the door, locking it, and throwing away the key....

      I agree with you....though I can also understand why RW wouldn't want to go the paid channel route because he would still have to go through the same painful process and deal with the same group of government people....if he's going to do that, might as well go for free TV license rather than paid TV license....

      As much as I hate to say it, I think RW's only hope is to venture outside of HK because with the government + TVB's monopoly, no way is he going to be successful (hate to admit it, but the reality is that it's hard to win when big, powerful, corrupt players are involved...I liken it to having to deal with the triads....).

      I'm also waiting to see what's going to happen with the dramas he's completed because I definitely want to watch them.