The Executive Council has veered from its common practice of announcing broadcast licence renewals one year beforehand in the case of Commercial Radio and Metro Broadcast, Commercial Radio’s chief advisor Stephen
But Chan declined to speculate if there are political concerns behind the delay, saying that the council may just have been too busy lately.
“I think it is unusual how the cases are being handled...usually the (broadcasters) would be informed one year before their licences expire whether they would be renewed,” Chan said on Thursday.
The two broadcasters’ licences will expire in August this year. They submitted the renewal applications in 2014.
But local political controversies have weighed on licence renewal applications before.
In 2012, former chief executive contender Henry Tang Ying-yen alleged that his competitor Leung Chun-ying, had in 2003 – whilst an Exco member – masterminded a push for a much shorter renewal for Commercial Radio. Leung denied the allegations and won the 2012 election.
Two years later, Commercial Radio’s host Li Wei-ling, known for criticising the government, was sacked. She lambasted the broadcaster for betraying her and bowing to “suppression” by the government ahead of the licence-renewal negotiations. She claimed that a Leung ally had told her to “take care of her job” before her removal.
The broadcaster has since denied it had given in to government pressure in dismissing her but did not disclose the grounds for the dismissal.
“As to the reasons behind the delay, whether the Exco members are too busy since they only meet once a week, I really don’t know,” Chan said.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Greg So Kam-leung said in a written response to the Legislative Council on Wednesday that the Communications Authority had submitted recommendations to the Chief Executive in Council about the renewal applications in May last year.
“The Chief Executive in Council has been processing the Licence Renewal Applications in accordance with the (Telecommunications Ordinance) and established procedures without delay, and will make the final decisions as soon as possible,” he said.