Communications Authority's decision on DBC's application for deviations from its licence requirements
The Communications Authority (CA) rejected the application by Digital Broadcasting Corporation Hong Kong Limited (DBC) for its broadcasting service to deviate from the programming requirements set out under its licence from 11.30pm on October 21, 2012, for a period of up to 60 days
(Media-Newswire.com) - The Communications Authority ( CA ) rejected the application by Digital Broadcasting Corporation Hong Kong Limited ( DBC ) for its broadcasting service to deviate from the programming requirements set out under its licence from 11.30pm on October 21, 2012, for a period of up to 60 days. The CA also reached a provisional decision that DBC's deviation from these programming requirements during the relevant period amounted to a breach of licence condition of a serious nature and that a sanction commensurate with the severity, nature and duration of the breach should be imposed on DBC in accordance with the law.
Under its licence, unless with the approval of the CA, DBC is required to broadcast each day seven 24-hour sound broadcasting service channels of specified genres, announcements in the public interest and a specified number of hours of non-Cantonese programmes. It is also required to provide a specified number of hours of first-run and repeated programmes in accordance with the proposal it submitted when applying for the licence.
During 11.30pm on October 21, 2012, to midnight on October 31, 2012, DBC broadcast only music and re-runs and from midnight on October 31, 2012, DBC ceased to provide service altogether. On October 25, 2012, the receivers of DBC ( the Receivers ) applied for the CA's approval for DBC to deviate from the programming requirements set out under its licence from October 21, 2012, for up to a period of 60 days. On November 2, 2012, the Receivers submitted a further application in relation to the complete cessation of service since October 31, 2012. The Receivers submitted that since the unanimous agreement from all shareholders with regard to the provision of funding to meet the operational needs of DBC was not obtained and DBC did not have the necessary funds to meet its operating costs to broadcast music and re-runs, DBC's broadcasting service had ceased since October 31, 2012.
The CA has examined DBC's application carefully. The CA was of the considered view that frequency spectrum was a scarce and valuable community resource and there was public expectation that a broadcasting licensee should make proper use of the spectrum assigned to it in the best interest of the whole community and provide an adequate and comprehensive service which was responsive to the diverse needs of the community. DBC's application to deviate from the programming requirements as pledged in its licence had to be considered with due regard to its impact on the listening public. DBC's proposed arrangement, which involved a complete cessation of service for up to 50 days ( Note ), obviously had an adverse impact on the programming choice for the listening public. The CA was of the view that the application could only be justified if DBC could demonstrate that the proposed service disruption would be of a limited duration and that the negative impact arising therefrom would be counterbalanced in the long run with the resumption of service within the proposed period of 60 days. The CA noted however that more than four weeks had passed since the service disruption on October 21, 2012, but DBC was still not able to report any concrete progress in obtaining the necessary funding for the resumption of a full service within the proposed period, nor provided a detailed proposal illustrating the steps and timeline to achieve this goal. While DBC submitted a proposal on November 21, 2012, regarding resumption of broadcasting services, it was conditional on a resolution of the shareholders' dispute within a proposed timeframe. The proposal has not outlined any concrete steps that will be taken to resolve the dispute. In the absence of the above information, DBC had failed to demonstrate commitment to resolve the financial predicament within the proposed timeframe. Based on the information submitted by the Receivers to the CA, it was doubtful if the service of DBC could be fully resumed within the proposed period of 60 days. Taking into account the above and DBC's submissions, the CA decided that DBC's application to deviate from its programming requirements during the relevant period should be rejected.
As DBC's application was rejected by the CA, DBC's deviations from the programming requirements under its licence from October 21, 2012, onwards amounted to a contravention of the relevant licence conditions. The CA considered the current contravention of DBC arising from a complete cessation of its services for weeks a very serious one indeed. In this regard, the CA has reached a provisional decision that a sanction commensurate with the severity, nature and duration of the breach should be imposed on DBC in accordance with the law. The CA is inviting representations from DBC on the provisional decision. An announcement will be made once the CA has reached a final decision on the matter, having taken into account the representations of DBC.
Note: The proposed period of 60 days includes 10 days during which only music and re-runs were broadcast ( i.e. from October 21 to 31, 2012 ). Thus, under DBC's current application, the period of a complete cessation of service is up to 50 days.
This story was released on 2012-11-26. Please make sure to visit the official company or organization web site to learn more about the original release date. See our disclaimer for additional information.