Yes Television Asia (YTA), the Hong Kong arm of UK video-on-demand operator Yes Television, has lost the backing of local utilities giant CLP Holdings, only weeks before launching commercial trials in Hong Kong.

YTA was to have become a wholly owned subsidiary of a joint venture in which CLP held 75% and Yes the rest. However CLP has decided to withdraw from the pay-TV sector following a report which throws doubts on its profitability.

Yes chairman and CEO, Thomas Kressner, said the company is looking for a new Hong Kong partner, but that it still plans to go ahead with trials next month. "We are disappointed and surprised by CLP's decision," Kressner said. "Nevertheless, Yes will honour the pledges made to the Hong Kong government regarding timing. We are confident that the resources, expertise and experience of Yes Television can bring this exciting project to fruition."

The original shareholding structure of YTA, in which Yes Television holds 90% and Hong Kong's Shaw Media 10%, remains intact.

The Hong Kong government issued five pay-TV licences in 2000 in an attempt to liberalise the sector. Two licensees - Star TV and mainland China-owned Hong Kong Network TV - decided to scrap proposed services because of concerns about viability. Taiwan-based Pacific Digital is postponing its full roll out by up to a year, while Galaxy Satellite Broadcasting, owned by Hong Kong broadcaster TVB, is currently renegotiating to relax certain terms of its contract.

Yes announced last week that it had secured a package of five Star TV channels to carry during its commercial trials, including Star Movies, Star World, Channel V, Phoenix Chinese Channel and National Geographic's Adventure One.