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Chief Executive in Council's decisions on free TV licence applications of ATV and HKTVE

     The Government announced today (April 1) the Chief Executive (CE) in Council's decisions on Asia Television Limited's (ATV) application for renewal of the domestic free television programme service (free TV) licence and HK Television Entertainment Company Limited's (HKTVE)  application for a new free TV licence .

     Speaking at a press conference, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, said: "Having considered the recommendations of the Communications Authority (CA), relevant representations and all relevant latest developments, the CE in Council decided not to renew ATV's free TV licence under section 11(5) of the Broadcasting Ordinance."

     The notice of non-renewal was served on ATV this afternoon.

     ATV's free TV licence is due to expire on November 30, 2015. Under the Broadcasting Ordinance, a notice in writing of the CE in Council's non-renewal decision has to be served on ATV at least 12 months before expiry of its licence. For the purpose of complying with the statutory requirement as to the length of notice, ATV will have its licence extended to April 1, 2016.

     Mr So noted that this is the first time in the local broadcasting history that an incumbent's broadcasting licence is not renewed.

     "The Government will set up a task force, to be chaired by the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Communications and Technology), comprising representatives from bureaux and departments concerned, to see to the speedy resolution of various issues that might arise from the non-renewal of ATV's licence. The task force will coordinate implementation of necessary contingency measures during the transitional period to minimise any adverse impact that might occur," he said.

     Amongst others, the task force will liaise closely with the Labour Department on necessary measures to assist ATV's displaced staff, including arranging briefing to the affected staff on their employment rights under the law and providing points of contact for those who may need Government's assistance.

     Mr So reiterated that it remains incumbent on the management of ATV to comply at all times with all relevant statutory requirements and the provisions in its free TV licence in the next 12 months until the expiry of its licence. ATV is also required to make proper arrangement for its staff.

     In processing the renewal application by ATV, the CA carried out a comprehensive assessment on its performance and conducted a public consultation exercise from February 4 to April 3, 2014 to gauge public views on ATV's service. The CA submitted its recommendation to the CE in Council in November last year.

     The CA considers that the overall performance of ATV is unsatisfactory. Its performance in various aspects has clearly deteriorated after the mid-term review of its licence. The CA has serious doubts as to whether ATV would be capable of making the necessary improvements, and whether it has the financial capability to deliver its investment plans, and indeed to continue its business as a going concern.

     At the press conference today, Mr So also announced that the CE in Council had decided to formally grant a free TV licence to HKTVE, following the grant of approval-in-principle back in October 2013.

     HKTVE's licence will be valid from today for 12 years until March 31, 2027, subject to a mid-term review in 2021.

     "We hope that HKTVE's entry into the free TV market will benefit our audience-at-large with more quality programming choices," Mr So said.

     HKTVE's new free TV service will be delivered via fixed network. Its integrated Cantonese channel and integrated English channel will commence within 12 months and 24 months respectively after the grant of licence. The Cantonese channel will provide round-the-clock service, while the English channel will broadcast a total of 16 hours of television programmes with two loops of eight hours each.

     Viewers served by In-building Coaxial Cable Distribution System (IBCCDS), after upgrading the IBCCDS, may receive HKTVE's free TV signals with Integrated Digital Television sets or digital terrestrial television decoders (DTT decoders). HKTVE has committed to extend its network coverage from 65 per cent of the households in the first year to 80 per cent in the sixth year.

     Since the grant of approval-in-principle in October 2013, the CA proceeded with the consequential follow-up work, including further review of HKTVE's application, sought further information and clarifications as necessary from HKTVE and discussed with the company the proposed licence conditions.

     The CA considers that HKTVE has complied with the statutory requirements under the Broadcasting Ordinance, committed to meet various programming requirements, and is satisfied with its investment proposal. The CA submitted a recommendation that a free TV licence should be formally granted to HKTVE to CE in Council in January this year.

Ends/Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Issued at HKT 21:03


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