Saturday, March 29, 2014

NEWS ARTICLE: HKTV will flout rules if even one person views content via antenna, watchdog tells Ricky Wong

I was reading the latest article from SCMP about the HKTV licensing first reaction to the 'new twist' mentioned in the article:  WOW....looks like the Communications Authority just put the nail in the coffin for HKTV -- they made it where now HKTV has no chance whatsoever to launch their station in HK, even if Ricky Wong agrees to use a lower transmission standard.  What a bunch of bastards (I'm referring to those boneheads in the Communications Authority / HK government)!

Looks like Ricky Wong is going to pursue legal action as his next step, but honestly, I don't think that will help much...with the HK government seemingly hell-bent on preventing him from launching his station, I highly doubt that any court in HK will rule in his favor.  Argh!!

HKTV will flout rules if even one person views content via antenna, watchdog tells Ricky Wong

Source:  SCMP

The telecommunications watchdog and Ricky Wong Wai-kay of the Hong Kong Television Network sat down together yesterday for the first time since a mobile television row broke out - and ended up farther apart.

As the discussions reached a dead end, Wong sent an ultimatum to the Communications Authority (Ofca) threatening legal action in two weeks if no solution could be agreed on.

The three-hour session marked the first proper face-to-face negotiations between Wong and Ofca chairman Ambrose Ho Pui-him and director general of communications Eliza Lee Man-ching since January. Wong wanted to launch a mobile service after being denied a free-to-air television licence.

But in the end the meeting threw up more questions than solutions.

The HKTV chairman was told he would breach mobile television licensing rules if just one person watched the service at home using a public antenna.

Wong would need to obtain a broadcasting licence on top of a mobile licence, Ofca said.

Previously, the authority had objected to his proposal to use the digital terrestrial multimedia broadcast (DTMB) transmission standard - which is adopted by established stations TVB and ATV - as this would make HKTV a de facto free-television station.

It warned that if more than 5,000 households could view Wong's service via antenna, he would be bound by the Broadcasting Ordinance to obtain a free-to-air television licence.

But in the latest twist, the authority said the requirement would stand whether it was one person or 5,000.

A mobile television licensee can air shows for people on the go, but not offer "fixed services".

Ho said a fixed service meant any television service that could be picked up by a household antenna. "By providing a fixed service, HKTV would breach the licensing conditions of mobile television," he said.

Ofca advised HKTV to adopt a standard other than DTMB, such as those used for mobile television in Japan and Europe.

Wong called the requirement unreasonable, as it was impossible for a station to prevent viewers from plugging in receivers to public antennas.

"I've been working in the telecoms engineering field for more than 25 years. It is mission impossible," he said.

HKTV's application for a free-to-air television licence was rejected without a convincing explanation in October after a three-year wait. Wong pressed ahead with plans for a mobile service in December after acquiring China Mobile Hong Kong for HK$142 million along with its mobile television licence. His plan to launch in July came to a halt after Ofca disapproved of a change in transmission standard.


  1. With all due respect, I don't think you're presenting both sides of the debate. Although the HK government is definitely making life difficult for Ricky Wong, they also said they have warned him way ahead of time that his plans for mobile TV would be a violation of the rules. Ricky Wong deliberately chose to ignore that and now he's trying to play victim.

    1. @miriamfanz: Actually, I feel both sides were already fairly represented in the previous articles (my comments introducing the articles may not necessarily reflect all the main points covered in the article – it is merely my two cents relaying how I feel at the moment that I wrote the post).

      While it's true that Ricky Wong has been playing the victim with regard to the whole 5000 household thing (not trying to defend him, but it’s kind of hard not to sympathize given everything that had happened up to that point), I feel that now, the issue has evolved to the point where the government is being unreasonable. By saying that even if HKTV's broadcast reaches one household or if they use a lower transmission but someone develops technology to allow lower transmissions to enter households, the govt will still go after HKTV, that to me is going a bit overboard. I understand the argument about the government merely ‘enforcing the laws’ but the problem is that they’re not doing it consistently across the board – for example, they claim that Ricky Wong is in violation of the laws if the transmission he uses is allowed to be viewed on television by audiences…then by the same logic, wouldn’t TVB and ATV be violating the law by allowing their content to be viewed on mobile devices? To me, this is the part that frustrates me – if you’re going to enforce the laws, you need to do it consistently across the board, no matter who the other party is…but with a lot of the things that have happened the past couple years (and not just related to HKTV either), it’s obvious that the HK government hasn’t been ‘playing fair’ in many situations.

  2. Is there anything else Ricky Wong/HKTV can do? It's sad how HK government has been bent on kicking him out from the start and yes they aren't consistent in terms of enforcing their outdated laws. In the end it's best to just give up on airing in HK just focus on overseas market.

    1. @sport3888: As much as I hate to say it, I really don't think there is much else that Ricky Wong / HKTV can do. Even if he finds an alternative solution, most likely that is going to get shot down as well...I mean, with this 5000 household thing, even some legal experts and legislators have said how it's unprecedented and they even don't know which side is right/wrong because the law has been in existence for decades, but no one has brought it up until now (it's almost like they deliberately had someone scour through the Broadcasting Ordinance word by word to see if there was anything in there that they could use to 'bust' Ricky Wong).

      I honestly feel that at this point, Ricky Wong should just give up on the HK market and focus on overseas or international distribution of his programs. True, he already invested so much money, time, and effort, but at the rate things are going, he's not going to get a break no matter what he does.

  3. I hope Ricky Wong would just give up on HK market and air overseas... he dont have to worry about the HK ppl not being able to watch HKTV...there are bound to be some "geniuses" who can bring those shows back to HK (in some "way")...