Telco PCCW opens Chinese portal to beef up Chinese-language fare

HONG KONG — Local telco PCCW will revamp its troubled broadband content provider Network of the World.

The company revealed Tuesday that it was forming a new portal,, with the help of eight Hong Kong content providers — including terrestrial channel TVB and the Mei Ah Entertainment Group — in an effort to beef up its almost nonexistent Chinese-language fare. The portal will start operations next month.

Readjusting for future

It’s a move that reflects PCCW’s dramatically reduced ambitions. When NOW ( was launched June 30, company chairman and chief executive Richard Li proclaimed it would one day compete with media giants like AOL Time Warner.

The company planned to spend $1.5 billion over five years on developing broadband and TV content. It has since said it will cap spending at $190 million this year and $100 million for each of the next two.

Its latest announcement is a glorified tidy-up aimed at better integrating PCCW’s Internet properties with those of Hong Kong Telecom, which it bought in a dramatic takeover at the height of the Web bull market last year.

The company’s stock has shed more than 60% this year, hovering around 24¢.

Prod’n picture

Obvious loose ends have been left hanging. PCCW’s studios in London — long suspected to be the prime target of the restructuring — will continue to produce content for the portal.

Talks between TVB and PCCW about the Hong Kong pay TV arena are unresolved, despite the former’s participation in the new portal. ITV, PCCW’s ailing video-on-demand service, will not be integrated with NOW, possibly a signal that a pay TV deal with TVB is being resolved.

TVB’s yet-to-be-launched pay TV service, Galaxy, has been seeking an investor for months. A deal with PCCW would make a formidable pay TV combination. But the way it’s acting right now, PCCW doesn’t look as if it has the energy to help make Galaxy a player.

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