TVB tunes off talk of Olympic bid pullback

Top News | Kevin Xu 6 Nov 2019

Reports that TVB has pulled the plug on its bid to broadcast the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are "speculative," a station spokesman says.

Such broadcast rights are said to be worth some HK$270 million, making it hardly possible for operators to cover the expenses merely through advertising revenue amid a slowing economy and the unstable social situation - unless the government subsidizes the costs.

According to a TVB interim report, it had unrestricted bank and cash balances of HK$854 million as of June 30.

Pay-TV operator Now TV and free-to-air station ViuTV are reportedly set to bid jointly.

Agencies linked to the Tokyo Olympics are said to be talking with the Hong Kong government regarding the rights.

The Home Affairs Bureau has not replied to The Standard's inquiries regarding the rights. The Games will officially run between July 24 and August 9.

Organizers of international sporting events - such as the Olympics and the World Cup - usually sell broadcasting rights to media organizations around the world through a competitive bidding process.

"It is understood that the relevant organizers have required the organizations awarded with the broadcasting rights to allow local free television broadcasters to relay certain hours of the events or the key events therein," said Edward Yau, Tang-wah secretary for commerce and economic development, in response to questions posed by lawmaker Chan Han-pan in a Legislative Council meeting in June last year.

"As such, a mechanism is already in place to ensure that the public may view some of the matches of the World Cup and the Olympic Games free of charge. In general, governments around the world will not intervene in the process and Hong Kong is no exception."

Chan said the broadcasting rights have often been awarded to paid television broadcasters, and members of the public who are not subscribed are unable to watch those matches.

He asked whether the government will consider paying a fee to the media organizations that have been awarded the broadcasting rights of various sporting competitions so that arrangements can be made to broadcast matches at venues such as community halls, where the public can watch them for free.

"In respect to the World Cup and the Olympic Games, the organizers award the broadcasting rights to eligible media corporations or their related companies under the market mechanism in accordance with their policies and regulations," Yau said.

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