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HONG KONGRicky Wong, the Hong Kong businessman whose Hong Kong Television Network, was surprisingly denied a free-to-air TV license in October says he will launch five new channels via the internet.

At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Wong announced that HKTN will begin broadcasting from July 1, 2014. The company will put out a bundle of differentiated channels including one 24-hour news service, a Cantonese general entertainment channel and others that may include pay-TV or VoD options. they will be available as over-the top services and on mobile devices.

Wong said that he will gradually rehire many of the 340 staff that were made redundant in October after HKTN’s application for an FTA license was rejected. With some 600 hours of original content already produced, Wong said that he expects further production of some 250 hours next year, rising to 500 hours in 2015.

He added that the online channel launch does not mean that he has given up the fight for an FTA license.

After a prolonged bidding and consultation process, Hong Kong’s Communications Authority recommended the granting of new licenses to all three companies that made final offers. But the territory’s Chief Executive in Council chose to ignore that advice and made approvals in principle to only two. Both are seen as Beijing-friendly operations: Fantastic Television backed by cable TV operator I-Cable and Hong Kong Television Entertainment, backed by PCCW, the telecoms and IPTV group.

Wong, a maverick internet and phones magnate who ran one of Hong Kong’s two FTA incumbents Asia Television (ATV) for less than two weeks, was widely considered the best prepared and the heaviest spending of the three candidates.

That preparedness will now allow HKTN to be operational long before the new channels of either I-Cable’s Fantastic Television or PCCW’s HKTE – possibly even before their new licenses are made official.

  • In an unconnected transaction, PCCW and affiliates today announced that they will pay HK$18.7 billion (US$2.43 billion) for CSL, a Hong Kong mobile phone network owned by a mix of local and foreign financial investors, including new World Holdings and Australia’s Telstra. If approved by regulators, the deal will reduce the number of mobile phone operators in Hong Kong from six to five and mean that all are controlled by Hong Kong or China operators. PCCW disposed of CSL ten years ago.