PCCW, i-Cable get free-to-air licences

16 Oct 2013

Hong Kong’s government has approved in principle the award of free-to-broadcast TV licences to the territory’s two largest pay-TV operators, PCCW (HKT) and i-Cable, while Hong Kong Television Network (the former City Telecom which spun off its telecoms division to focus on TV) was not granted a permit. Once given final approval, the licences will be issued to multi-service cableco i-Cable’s Fantastic Television (Fantastic TV) subsidiary and telecoms/IPTV operator PCCW’s Hong Kong Television Entertainment (HKTVE) unit, providing competition to Hong Kong’s existing two advertisement-supported free broadcast TV networks, the dominant Television Broadcasts (TVB) and struggling Asia Television (ATV). i-Cable will invest more than HKD1 billion (USD129 million) in the first six years of its proposed new TV service while PCCW will spend more than HKD600 million in the initial three years of operation, according to a report from Bloomberg. The empty-handed Hong Kong Television Network had invested more than HKD900 million ahead of the decision, chairman Ricky Wong claimed, and did not understand why its application was rejected. The disappointed firm said that the rejection would force it to cut 320 jobs, adding that it was seeking legal advice on the matter.