Hong Kong Television Network Limited (HKTV, Chinese: 香港電視網絡有限公司, SEHK: 1137) is a Hong Kong-based e-commerce company that once had plans to become a television station. HKTV currently provides an over-the-top shopping and entertainment ("shoppertainment") platform named HKTVmall.
In 2009, HKTV (then-City Telecom) applied for domestic free-to-air television programme service licence, but was rejected by the Hong Kong government in October 2013. Later, HKTV acquired a mobile TV licence and planned to launch the first 2 channels but this plan was foiled again. It commenced live and video on demand broadcasting through internet on 19 November 2014, while refiling an application for a free-to-air licence. HKTV had fought a series of legal battles against the government, until it withdrew its application for free-to-air licence and surrendered its mobile television licenses to the Communications Authority in March 2018.
Hong Kong Television Network Limited is formerly known as City Telecom. Founded in 1992, City Telecom has had extensive and successful experiences in the liberalisation of the telecommunications business and the application and renown of advanced technology. City Telecom sold its main business Hong Kong Broadband Network in 2012. It then renamed as Hong Kong Television Network in order to attempt to enter the free-to-air television market of Hong Kong.
In January 2013, City Telecom took on the name HKTV.
After submission of application for a domestic free television programme service licence in 2009, HKTV invested about HK$300 million and hired several hundred staff to produce TV series, and planned to invest HK$600 million into a new Television Production Centre at Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate. Moreover, it released some trailers of the TV series on YouTube, which received mostly positive feedback. It planned to start broadcasting with six channels, and eventually expand to 30 in six years.
The licence application was rejected by the Hong Kong Government on 15 October 2013 amidst competition from television operators Fantastic Television and Hong Kong Television Entertainment. The government quoted 'gradual and orderly approach' as the sole reason for its decision and invited HKTV to challenge it in court by judicial review. There was a strong outcry against the decision from the general public.
On 20 October 2013, five days after the rejection of HKTV's TV licence application, crowds of protesters in black T-shirts including the staff of HKTV marched to request the government to issue the licence and demand an explanation. HKTV suggested that 80,000 people took part in the protest, while the police claimed that only 36,000 people joined. Protesters chanted "Stop monopoly in the TV market" as they thought that TVB was monopolising the market and they said "Stop black box politics" because the policy made by the Executive Council is not transparent to the public. The Facebook page that organised the march received about 500,000 "likes" within one week.
On 6 January 2014, HKTV has filed an application for leave to apply for judicial review in respect of the Government's decision in rejecting HKTV's application for a domestic free TV programme service licence. which was accepted by the High Court.
On 11 April 2014, HKTV appealed for the judicial review on the broadcasting format of the Mobile Television service, which was accepted by the High Court. Meanwhile, HKTV applied again to the Communication Authority for the free Television Broadcasting license. Moreover, HKTV proposed to establish an online shopping center before the end of 2014, where customers can watch the new program produced continuously by HKTV.
In May 2014, HKTV planned to launch an online shopping website. The completed TV shows were planned to broadcast on this website to attract more local companies to get into this online business. The target group of HKTV online shopping website was the annual salary more than 250,000 middle-class family. However, HKTV remained running free TV business as their most important task. Operating e-commerce only aims to obtain funds to maintain the company.
In late October 2014, HKTV launched a voting online to vote for their favourite TV series among sixteen, and the winner will be broadcast on 19 November 2014.
On 19 November 2014, HKTV officially launched its channel, the same day Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) started to broadcast in 1967. The main income is the advertisement between 12–13 hours programmes. At the early stage of its broadcasting, HKTV uploaded 2 hours drama, half an hour variety shows, plus 4 hours programmes every day.
After launch, HKTV was exploring new business opportunities, including e-commerce, by consolidating mobile TV spectrum and over-the-top Internet platforms. Leveraging on the strong brand presence and programme library of HKTV, it aims to build the largest and the most diversified in terms of brand names, products & services e-shopping mall in Hong Kong, providing one-stop shopping and round-the-clock services.
On 24 April 2015, the High Court ruled the rejection of HKTV's application as unlawful: when the Executive Council switched to a policy that limits the numbers of licences, it failed to follow the policy which encourages competition within the broadcasting industry as set forth in 1998. The court ordered the Exco to reconsider HKTV's application.
In March 2018, HKTV announced that they have abandoned the thought of being a television station, and would continue to focus on its online shopping platform HKTVmall. The company has also withdraw its free-TV license application and return its mobile TV license to the Communications Authority of Hong Kong.
HKTV supports multiple platforms: personal computers, smart televisions, television boxes, smartphones and tablet computers. All smart TVs which are produced in and after 2012 can subscribe to the HKTV channel; Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Sony televisions allow their users to watch HKTV programmes through an application downloaded from the TV markets. Users of Android and iOS smartphones and tablet computers can download apps from Google Play Store and the App Store respectively. Besides, HKTV has planned to open more channels on Internet, smartphone, and set top box etc.
HKTVmall offers online shopping experience on lifestyle items on its website. It also supports Android and iOS devices and its app is available in Google Play Store and the App Store.
By 31 August 2014, HKTV had produced 190 dramas, 70 variety shows and over 1000 hours' programmes.
A list of TV series produced by HKTV:
HKTV acquired land at Wan O Road and Wan Po Road in Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate in 2011 to build their television production studios and plans to have it completed in 2014. The facility is located 2 kilometres north of TVB City.
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