Chinese broadcaster Phoenix Hong Kong Television’s application for a free-to-air TV licence includes a Cantonese entertainment channel and an English channel, a public consultation document published on Friday revealed.

The Cantonese channel will broadcast 24-hours a day, and the English channel 18-hours a day between 6:30am and 12:30am. While the Cantonese channel will have self-produced and acquired programmes, most of the programmes on the English channel will be acquired rather than original.

Phoenix TV
Phoenix TV building in Hong Kong. Photo: Phoenix TV.

The company said the programming expenditure, capital expenditure and operating expenditure in the first six years of its operations are projected to total HK$2.374 billion. It plans to use the digital spectrum withdrawn from facilities owned by Asia Television Limited for the delivery of its proposed free TV service. ATV ceased broadcasting in April.

Phoenix said it commits to reaching no less than 75 per cent of Hong Kong households at the outset, and no less than 90 per cent of Hong Kong households within 24 months after service begins.

Members of the public can submit their views on the application to the Communications Authority by November 3.

The application sparked concerns about mainland encroachment in the Hong Kong media industry.

Liu Changle, founder and CEO of Phoenix TV’s parent company Phoenix Satellite Television, is a member of China’s top political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

In the public consultation document, it was revealed that the company will restructure upon receiving an approval-in-principle to grant the licence by the Chief Executive in Council.

Charles Yang Chuen-liang
Charles Yang Chuen-liang.

Chinese connections

Charles Yang Chuen-liang will hold 85.01 per cent of the voting shares in Phoenix HK. Phoenix HK Channel, a member of the Phoenix Group, will hold the remaining 14.99 per cent of the voting shares.

Yang is a director of Phoenix URadio, a digital radio station under Phoenix which made a request to give its broadcasting licence back to the government in September last year. Yang was formerly chief financial officer of ATV.

Yang is a member of the CPPCC of Hubei province. He has also been appointed to public positions such as independent director of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, and member of the Assessment Committee of the Mega Events Fund. He is also an independent non-executive director of the listed company Chevalier Group.

Phoenix HK said one of its directors is a disqualified person under the Broadcasting Ordinance, since he was associated with Phoenix Satellite Television Company Limited and mainland advertising agency Phoenix Metropolis Media Technology Company Limited.

However, Phoenix HK will apply for this person to be exempted by the Executive Council, on the grounds that the person has experience in the television and media industries, and is an invaluable resource.

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.