Cable TV tumbles as Wharf looks to exit the pay-TV business

Wharf Holdings has set to exit its unprofitable pay-TV and broadband internet business as the company redirects its focus on property, which contributed to the 25% increase in its 2016 earnings. On the other hand, i-Cable Communications reported a HK$313 million loss last year and a 7% drop in year-on-year revenue in 2016.

The retail landlord said in a statement that its current funding commitments to i-Cable will not be extended when they expire, which left the current funding commitments of up to HK$400 million dated December 12, 2016.

It added that no buyers had been found for its i-Cable Communications unit.

"Our evaluation is that the possibility to see i-Cable turning around is low in the short to medium term," said Stephen Ng, Wharf’s chairman as well as i-Cable's chairman and chief executive, during a press conference yesterday. "i-Cable had been suffering losses in the past eight to nine years, and we've tried to talk with many investors, but no one intended to buy."

He said i-Cable will hire a financial adviser to review and find a strategy for its future, but couldn't answer if i-Cable will close down.

i-Cable's pay-TV license is due to expire at the end of May, and Ng said they hope to get a better picture before deciding whether to accept a new pay-TV license, which requires a commitment of 12 years.

The Office of the Communications Authority said i-Cable must fulfill its financial responsibilities before its pay-TV license matures on 31 May.