Television screens on Hong Kong’s Kowloon Motor Bus Company (KMB) buses will no longer broadcast advertisements on July 1. They will instead display passenger information.

Roadshow, which broadcasts programmes and advertisements across the KMB fleet, had said it would not submit a tender for a bus-television licence when its current licence expires on June 30. KMB had said that it would invite others to bid.

Commuters have long complained that Roadshow broadcasts repetitive content and causes noise pollution.

Roadshow KMB bus
Photo: Wpcpey via Wikimedia Commons.

On Thursday, KMB told HKFP that the screens on buses will “mainly be used to provide passenger information after July 1” – suggesting that there may not have been successful advertising bids.

KMB is one of three major bus companies in Hong Kong, alongside Citybus and New World First Bus. Buzplay is the provider of in-vehicle television advertising for the latter two companies.

Roadshow began broadcasting advertisements with KMB in 2000. Originally part of the KMB group, it was spun off as a listed company a year later.

A group called Anti Coercive Advertising Campaign voiced opposition to Roadshow during a government consultation. The government then decided to make a compromise, ordering that the ads must be silenced on the lower decks of buses.

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But the group said KMB has not given up on using loudspeakers on buses to broadcast television programmes, saying that the company could turn to playing other types of content.

“So we believe the public still needs to continue monitoring KMB,” Lo Hon-man, the group’s founder, told HKFP.

Lo noted that Citybus and New World First Bus may also lose money on its television advertising services after lower decks turn silent in July.

“We will ask the government to reveal the proportion that Buzplay contributes to their profits – if it cannot be used to subsidize bus fares, we will have a strong argument in asking the government to completely cancel bus television services.”

Last year, Roadshow recorded a loss of HK$46 million. “The decision will allow the group to reallocate its resources to other more profitable segments of the group’s business,” said Roadshow in March in reference to its decision not to submit a new bid.

Internet users embedded a countdown to Roadshow’s Chinese-language Wikipedia page, tracking the number of days remaining before its KMB advertisements are set to end.

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.