FilMart: Prospects for i-Cable Darken as Linear TV in Asia Feels Pressure

Hong Kong FilMart logo
Patrick Frater

New Hong Kong digital TV channel Fantastic TV will go ahead Wednesday with an event at FilMart, despite its corporate parent pulling back from its sister company i-Cable.

The future for linear TV broadcasters across Asia is darkening – and is a major topic of discussion at FilMart in Hong Kong.

“Easy access to OTT platforms such as Netflix means TV operators must change its current business and distribution model. Operators like i-Cable has been hit hard by the technology,” said Peter Lam, VP of the Hong Kong Televisioners Association, which co-organizes the TV World sector at FilMart,.

Last week, Wharf Holdings, the parent company of i-Cable, announced that plans to sell the pay-TV operator had been scrapped and it would also stop backing the company after nine years of annual losses in a row.

The decision could also affect the future of Fantastic TV, the free TV arm under i-Cable that has yet to be launched. But Fantastic TV confirmed that schedule for its FilMart press conference on Wednesday (March 15) remains unchanged.

Lam said the Wharf announcement should be a wake-up call for the TV industry to re-examine its business model. Last year Hong Kong’s Asia Television, the region’s longest running TV broadcaster was also forced to close after multiple rescue attempts came to nothing.

Lam said that original content will be the key and that beyond its critically acclaimed news channel, i-Cable had failed to offer attractive content.

He said Hong Kong TV operators should learn from their peers in the film industry and explore the possibilities of co-producing high quality original content with mainland investor or partners. That was the model being explored by twin original series announcements at FilMart from Fox Networks Group.

Other key players making new content announcements this week included TVB and PCCW’s free TV arm Viu TV .

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