HKTV belatedly launches online TV service

20 Nov 2014

Hong Kong’s HKTV has launched its new online TV channel, having delayed the launch from a previous schedule of July, the South China Morning Post reports, quoting owner Ricky Wong Wai-kay as saying that his strategy follows that of subscription-based foreign channels like HBO and AXN, with new programming in prime time and reruns in the daytime. The launch of a new TV service has been anticipated since 2012 when the former City Telecom sold off its telecoms assets (including fibre provider Hong Kong Broadband Network), intending to focus on free-to-air TV, renaming itself HKTV. However, HKTV’s application for a free-to-air licence was rejected, while HKTV branched out by purchasing Hong Kong’s sole broadcast mobile TV network from cellco China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK), whilst also declaring that it would launch internet (OTT) television services in ‘July 2014’. Facing multiple issues – including CMHK’s mainland parent group’s investigation into HKTV’s mobile broadcast TV purchase, the ongoing court case over the free-to-air licence blocking, and local regulatory warnings over the acceptable usage of the CMHK mobile TV licensed frequencies (which were awarded for mobile-only, not ‘fixed’ residential applications) – in March 2014 HKTV postponed its full-scale digital TV launch plans and suspended filming new programmes. In August 2014 the Court of First Instance heard HKTV’s application for a judicial review of the government’s October 2012 decision to award fee-to-air licences to channels run by IPTV/cable pay-TV operators PCCW and i-Cable, but not to HKTV, with a final ruling on the case pending at the time of writing.

Hong Kong, Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV)