Hong Kong -- Hong Kong cable operator Cable TV has strongly
urged the government to take immediate steps to stop the hemorrhage of TV channels leaving
the territory for Singapore following last week's closure of movie channel MGM Gold
Cable TV external-affairs director Garmen Chan said
government officials should urgently set up a strategy to examine why Hong Kong is
"losing out to Singapore in the race to become the regional hub for television
broadcasting in Asia."
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and Encore International, MGM
Gold's owners, said they closed the channel due to the region's economic
Cable TV said it "sadly regretted" MGM
Gold's closure, adding that it was concerned about the wider implications for Hong
Kong. MGM Gold's demise follows the relocations of business channel CNBC and sports
channel Star Sports to Singapore as a result of mergers. Other services like Discovery
Channel-Asia, ESPN and MTV Asia have also migrated to Singapore from Hong Kong. And Disney
Channel, HBO Asia and Sony Entertainment Corp.'s AXN bypassed Hong Kong completely.
"The closure of MGM Gold will leave Hong Kong further
behind [Singapore]. A long-term strategy ought to be developed to encourage the industry
to invest in Hong Kong and in the future of Hong Kong," Chan said.
Chan didn't outline any possible means of attracting
TV-industry players to Hong Kong. Singapore, on the other hand, has aggressively lured
businesses with incentives like corporate-tax holidays of up to 10 years, reductions on
equipment-import duties and assistance with relocating and hiring staff.
Cable TV suggested that the government's current
review of broadcasting was an ideal opportunity "to examine important strategic
issues such as this one to enhance Hong Kong's competitiveness in the television
This month is the deadline for parties that are interested
in the review to submit their views to officials. A consultation document is due to be
drawn up this summer, and the government plans to issue its recommendations after a round
of public consultations in the last quarter of this year.