Beleaguered television network i-Cable has taken a “small but important step” towards continuing to broadcast, chairman Stephen Ng Tin-hoi said on Tuesday.

i-Cable’s future was plunged into uncertainty last month after parent company Wharf Holdings announced it would cease funding the pay-television network upon the expiry of its commitments.

Cable TV Tower in Tsuen Wan. Photo: Wpcpey via Wikicommons.

Trading in i-Cable’s shares was halted on Tuesday morning as Ng circulated an internal memo among staff.

“I am pleased to advise that a small but important step has been taken towards enabling the company to accept a new Pay TV licence and to carry on with its Pay TV, Free TV and Broadband businesses,” read the memo published on HK01.

See also: ‘God save i-Cable’: Journalists, politicians lament potential blow to Hong Kong media diversity

“Fuller information is expected to be disclosed later this week after an announcement has been cleared with SFC/SEHK [the Securities and Futures Commission and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange].”

“In the meantime, it is business as usual.”

In an interview with former legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing last week, i-Cable executive director Ronald Chiu Ying-chun said that the network was in talks with a potential investor. He said he was neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but added that an agreement was not imminent.

Pulling the plug

Founded in 1993, i-Cable operates a 24-hour Cantonese-language news network in Hong Kong, with an investigative news team in mainland China.

Stephen Ng. File photo: Wharf.

The network’s current pay-television licence expires on May 31. It has until April 26 to inform the Communications Authority whether it will accept an extension of the licence.

Despite the uncertainty, i-Cable announced last month that it will press on with the launch of free-to-air entertainment channel Fantastic Television on May 14.


Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.