Still not free to air

Still not free to air

Last year HKTV failed to win a broadcasting licence, and now it looks like its mobile deal might be under threat as well

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Protest against the government's decision to not grant HKTV a broadcasting licence.
Protest against the government's decision to not grant HKTV a broadcasting licence.
Photo: AFP
We might have to wait a little longer to tune into Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) after the planned TV channel suffered another setback. In an announcement on its website, China Mobile said it would be reviewing HKTV's deal to purchase China Mobile Hong Kong.

After HKTV's application for a free-to-air licence was rejected in October, tens of thousands of people marched on the streets to protest against the decision. But in December, HKTV owner Ricky Wong Wai-kay announced the station would be launched as a mobile service. It bought China Mobile Hong Kong for HK$142 million to provide a platform to air its programmes.

Now that deal is under threat after China Mobile announced it would investigate the takeover. The announcement has sent HKTV's share price tumbling.

Analysts believe it may be a political move from the mainland government. Charles Peter Mok, an information technology lawmaker, said that he couldn't believe the state-owned China Mobile hadn't considered all factors before agreeing to the deal in December.

Professor Anthony Fung Ying-him, director of Chinese University's school of journalism and communication, suggested there may be disagreements about the deal on the mainland. "It's impossible that the parent company was not aware of the deal its subsidiary made. The announcement perhaps indicates that there's differing opinions [internally] about the decision," he said.

Commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said that the move is yet another example of Beijing's contradictory approach to Hong Kong. He said the move is probably a sign that conservatives on the mainland want to show they are unhappy about the sale.

Without a broadcasting licence, HKTV aired its first production on YouTube last June. The first episode of Police Boundaries received more than 1.2 million views.


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