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New FTA licenses issued in Hong Kong

Two Hong Kong triple-play providers, PCCW and i-Cable, have received approval in principle for free-to-air licenses. This is the first time that new free-TV licenses have been made available in Hong Kong in more than 40 years.

PCCW, which operates the successful nowTV IPTV platform, said in a statement that its HKTVE subsidiary “submitted its application for a [free-TV] license with a view to providing Hong Kong viewers more choices and better free-TV programs. In doing so, we had also taken into account the market competition and the related risk profile of the free-TV business. We took a prudent approach in our proposal by making certain requirements and requests to the Government as part of our application. One of those key issues concerns the important question of spectrum allocation, given the fact that the incumbent operators’ existing licenses will expire in 2015. We will continue to discuss this matter with the Government and conclude the final license terms in due course. Without the spectrum, we will not be able to fully deliver the benefits of our free-TV service to Hong Kong viewers.” 

The second provider, i-Cable, has reportedly pledged to invest HK$1 billion in its free-TV offering, Fantastic Television, while PCCW is planning to invest $600 million in its service.

Hong Kong’s FTA landscape currently consists of TVB and ATV.