Hong Kong Gov’t Renews TVB Broadcast License

The Hong Kong government has renewed the free-to-air license of leading TV group Television Broadcasts (TVB). Its permit was extended for a further 12 years until Nov 2027.

The decision stands in contrast to the recent ruling by the Communications Authority which stripped rival Asia Television (ATV) of its license and barred it from operating after early 2016.

The government said that it was aware of but not worried by the presence of a mainland Chinese investor for the first time in the company’s 47 year history. Li Ruigang, of China Media Capital, was recently announced as a shareholder and board member in one of TVB’s holding companies.

TVB is required to commit to improving its programs. The government said that TVB had “committed to a six-year investment plan of $6,336 million (US$817 million) for 2016 to 2021, comprising $144 million of capital investment and $6,192 million of programming investment. It has also undertaken that each year at least 12,000 hours of the programmes on its service (representing about 27% of its total programmes) will be local productions.

“The licence conditions in the renewed licence of TVB are largely based on its existing licence, with additional requirements imposed to address public calls for improvements in its programming variety and quality,” a spokesman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said.

“TVB is required to provide an additional four hours per week of positive programmes in total on its digital channels, which are currently exempted from such a programming requirement. All must be first-run programmes with 60 minutes per week for each genre.

“Furthermore, to respond to public aspirations and to facilitate the Government’s policy of nurturing local talents, TVB has been required to provide on its licensed service independent local productions on an incremental basis from 20 hours per year in 2016 to 60 hours per year by 2020,” the spokesman said.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Gregory So, said applications by other companies for licenses are still pending. “Fantastic TV’s application is still being processed by the Chief Executive in Council. But pursuant to the request of Fantastic TV, the Chief Executive in Council will give Fantastic TV additional time until September 15 this year to provide additional information and also invited the Communications Authority to process this additional information,” So said.

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