The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development has said Commercial Radio can “rest assured” that its licence renewal is being handled, despite the fact it is due to expire in August.

Gregory So Kam-leung was questioned during a programme on Commercial Radio as stations are usually told whether their licences will be renewed a year ahead of their expiration.

So said that the matter was being handled by the Executive Council. He added that he was unable to share details as meetings are confidential.

Gregory So. File

“But it is being handled, rest assured, we will make an announcement as soon as possible when we have the results,” said So.

When asked about what he meant by “rest assured,” he said that the discussion is taking place according to a mechanism set by the government.

He was also asked if the bureau had submitted all of the required documents, but So refused to say whether the delay was caused by his bureau or the Executive Council, also citing confidentiality. He said the current situation in Hong Kong was “not normal” and more time was needed. So referred to the filibuster at the Legislative Council as an example.

Renewed saga

Currently, radio and TV stations have to apply for free-to-air licences from the government in order to operate in Hong Kong. A licence has to be renewed every 12 years.

When the Executive Council was deciding whether to renew Commercial Radio’s licence in 2003, several popular hosts critical of the government were suspended and eventually fired the following year, after its licence was renewed.

Metro Radio, another licenced radio station in Hong Kong, has also yet to be notified by the government whether its licence will be renewed.

In April 2015, the Executive Council confirmed that local broadcaster ATV’s free-to-air licence would not be renewed when it expires in November 2015. ATV were given a year’s notice and will continue broadcasting until April this year.

However, the rule does not apply to internet radio and TV stations. Popular telecom mogul Ricky Wong Wai-kay’s Hong Kong Television Network was denied a free-to-air licence in 2013 – it later launched an online platform to broadcast its programmes.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.