Monday, April 7, 2014

NEWS ARTICLE: New ATV chief defends station's reliance on re-runs

Here's an article published earlier today about ATV.  I actually don't really give a rat's tail about ATV nowadays, since those imbecilic executives who are in charge of the station have pretty much run it into the ground -- to the point that the station has become an eyesore and embarrassment to HK.  Even though ATV says that they will be going through some changes this year and will go back to filming series again (at least that's what chairman Ip Kar Bo claims), I highly doubt that they will be able to rebound from the dismal state that they are currently in.

With all that said, I still try to pay attention to news about ATV because the fact of the matter is that they are still a major 'player' in the free TV license game, regardless of how 'unworthy' and 'undeserving' we feel they are.  I don't know about you guys, but one thing I'm really keeping a close eye on is whether ATV will truly be able to get its license renewed next year -- given its poor track record, bad financials, lack of sound management, etc. etc., any talk of renewing ATV's license definitely defies logic...but unfortunately, the odds seem to be in their favor in that the government appears to be leaning towards allowing their renewal to go through.  If that's truly the case, then SHAME on the corrupt HK government!

Oh and one part of the article I wanted to draw attention to is the paragraph near the end about access to the broadcasting spectrum -- this issue was actually brought up multiple times in the past (and, quite frankly, is actually quite a crucial topic in any discussion related to the free TV licenses).....but each time, it was pretty much buried in the 'mountain' of controversy surrounding HKTV, TVB, and the government.  

Just to sum it up in laymen's terms:  back in 2007, TVB and ATV were given the green light to broadcast their programs utilizing 'high definition' methods with the requirement that they would extend their digital network coverage to 75% of HK within a year -- the idea would be that digital coverage would eventually exceed 98% of the population in HK and at that time, analogue transmissions would be completely turned off.  Since both TVB and ATV were 'analogue' stations, the only way for them to broadcast via digital means was for the government to allow them access to the broadcasting spectrum, which is a scarce public resource that is tightly regulated by the government -- this is pretty much the only way for the 2 stations to provide 'free' content to the public via digital means.  Given this information, it makes sense that with the granting of 2 additional free-to-air licenses last year (to NowTV and i-Cable), the government will need to open up the broadcasting spectrum even further and allow these 2 new license holders to access in order to broadcast their content.  Sounds simple, right?  Wrong!  There has been a huge debate going on within government departments for years over the broadcasting spectrum and how much access should be given, since there are all sorts of complicated rules associated with its usage -- the government has been unwilling to open up the spectrum any further than it already has, which means that the free TV license holders need to 'work within their means' and figure out a way to share the spectrum without violating any rules.  Currently, TVB and ATV dominate the spectrum and it goes without saying that they definitely won't 'give up' any part of their spectrum on their own accord -- this is why i-Cable says that the free TV market won't be a 'level playing field' unless the government 'forces' the other stations to 'share' their spectrum by redistributing it.

Ok...sorry for the long-winded explanation about such a 'boring' topic as broadcasting spectrum, but it's actually an integral part of this whole free TV license discussion thing, so I felt that it's important for those who have an active interest in the license issue to understand it.

Anyway, back to the article....

 New ATV chief defends station's reliance on re-runs

Source:  SCMP

Article published April 8, 2014

The new executive director of ATV has defended the station's use of re-runs to fill its schedule, saying the amount of airtime devoted to repeats was not high compared with other channels in the region.

But Ip Ka-po was tight-lipped over a possible tie-up with Ricky Wong Wai-kay's HKTV.

Separately, the owner of Cable TV said the distribution of spectrum by the government and the Communications Authority meant the city's free-TV market was not a level playing field.

Ip said ATV was working towards offering a wider variety of programmes to viewers, adding more current affairs and talk shows. Daily or weekly re-runs of topical news shows were "to facilitate audience members with different daily routines", he said.

Viewers might think the same programme was being repeated because such shows "all look similar - a few people talking on TV", he said.

ATV's current affairs show Asia Policy Unit is shown three times a day, while one talk show is shown twice a day.

Ip's predecessor as executive director, Louie King-bun, was sacked in February - barely six months into the job - after reportedly filing a complaint with the Communications Authority accusing the station's major investor Wong Ching of meddling in ATV's affairs.

Citing an internal study which compared the channel's re-run rate with that of eight other channels in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the mainland, Ip said ATV's rate - 30 per cent of its airtime - was not particularly high, relatively speaking.

He said ATV was confident its free-to-air licence would be renewed and revealed that some HK$2.7 billion would be invested over the next six years, mainly on a computer system upgrade and technical support for HD broadcasting.

A documentary on the "colour revolutions" in Europe and central Asia - a phenomenon Beijing loyalists see as a potential threat to Hong Kong - will be broadcast in May. Ip denied the broadcast was timed to coincide with the Occupy Central movement, which may take place in the summer, and said the show would offer a fair portrayal of those recent popular revolutions.

Ip gave no details on talks that may have been held between Wong Ching and Ricky Wong Wai-kay over dinner in December. Some had speculated that ATV might be sold to HKTV, or that some of its channels would be rented to Ricky Wong's company. Ip said there had been no contact between either camp for "two or three months".

Meanwhile, in a submission to the Communications Authority, i-Cable Communications questioned the handling of transmission capacity by the authority and the government. As the owner of pay-TV network Cable TV, whose subsidiary Fantastic TV was approved for a free-TV licence, it urged the authority to grant Fantastic TV and PCCW's Hong Kong Television Entertainment - another new free-TV player - access to the spectrum.

This would allow the two new free-TV players to broadcast their primary channels to terrestrial TV viewers.

Currently, only TVB and ATV have access to the spectrum.

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