PCCW seeks free-to-air TV license

PCCW plans to join the queue for free-to-air (TV) licenses in Hong Kong, announcing yesterday it plans to submit a bid.
 
Rival pay TV providers Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) and iCable have already submitted applications to the Commerce and Development Bureau, which manages broadcast policy in the territory.
 
The Hong Kong government is accepting applications for new licensees in the free TV market, which is dominated by the TVB group, with a single competitor, ATV.
 
PCCW did not provide detail in its statement, which appears to be a reaction to the move by its two main competitors.
 
“With its ubiquitous terrestrial and wireless networks, taken together with its quality local content production capabilities, PCCW has decided to apply for a FTA TV license,” the brief statement said.
 
The application would be submitted “in the near future,” it added.
 
The new has sparked discussion over Hong Kong’s cross-media ownership laws, which cover the traditional areas of radio, TV and print.
 
PCCW is Hong Kong’s largest pay TV provider, with 992,000 IPTV subs on its DSL network. Chairman and controlling shareholder Richard Li came under scrutiny when he made a bid for financial daily Hong Kong Economic Journal three years ago.
 
However, he was found not to be exercising direct control and the acquisition was approved.
 
It is not clear whether PCCW’s IPTV service comes under the cross-media rules under the Broadcast Ordinance, scmp.com reported.
 
Legislator Samson Tam, who represents the IT sector, told SCMP that the market could accommodate more than two FTA stations. He said the development of digital broadcasting meant ample spectrum was available.

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