Sunday, April 18, 2010

My 'TVB Rant' #1: Why I Can't Stand TVB's Politics -- Part 1

Those who know me know that I have an affinity for TVB series. Yes, it's true that I do (though it's more for the series from the 80s / 90s and not the current ones -- but that's a different topic). But as much as I like TVB series, I absolutely despise its management and the way they run their business. TVB is definitely an organization that people like me just love to hate...especially the past several years when the new management came to power.

What I can't stand about TVB (primarily its management team) is their "fakeness" when it comes to how they operate --- the classic example of "do as I say, not as I do".

Some people would argue that TVB as an organization is very shrewd and calculating but that there is nothing wrong with that because they do have a business to run after all. I'm not refuting the fact that they are a business and at the end of the day, need to do what they can to stay "at the top" of the industry -- but that doesn't make their actions right (I mean, even businesses have ethical committees that keep them in check...)

I especially hate how TVB always strives so hard to keep up a certain "image" and "reputation" in front of the media and their business associates, yet behind the scenes, it's a totally different story.

Take the unwritten rule of "not accepting interviews with competitors in Cantonese" concept. Analysis of this situation will give alot of insight into how petty and "fake" TVB really is.

Back when the whole royalty issue erupted between the Big 4 record companies and TVB, some artists (like Kay Tse and Hins Cheung for example) decided to interview with rival stations in Cantonese (whether contracted with TVB or not). The whole issue of contractual obligations was brought to the limelight because the media wanted to see what TVB's reaction would be (knowing how "petty" they are and how they would view these actions as a "slap in the face"). When asked about it, TVB publicly stated that there is no stipulation in the artists (singers) contracts about them not being allowed to interview with rival stations in Cantonese....of course, they try to make themselves "look good" (or perhaps save face) by saying that they (TVB) are very open and encourage artists to "expand" their resource base.

But that's what they SAY.....internally (behind closed doors), they actually "frown upon" artists interviewing with rival stations in Cantonese....but because they can't do anything about it legally (since it's not in the contracts and they can't stop the artists from doing it) and they need to maintain a certain image with the media (since they made themselves out to be so "accepting"), they resort to backhanded 'little actions' to show their discontent and retaliate against the artists who went "against their wishes" -- for example: cutting those artists out of scenes, not interviewing those artists but interviewing everyone around them, giving less screen time to that person while upping the screen time for other artists, putting the artists "in the freezer" by not giving them any opportunities to appear in series or on shows for a long period of time (and of course, when confronted they deny it and hide behind the excuse "there wasn't anything suitable for that artist at the time -- we would not 'freeze' an artist over such a small thing") Kay's case, not only did TVB ban her, they went so far as to ban her husband Louis as well (though once again, they say that he has other stuff to do and that's why he's no longer hosting certain shows)...

Another very recent example is Jacky Cheung. As everyone knows, Jacky spoke out against TVB several months ago because of their royalties dispute with the Big 4 record companies. Jacky has nothing against TVB – he’s just speaking out on behalf of everyone in the music industry, because he has been an integral part of the industry and really wants to see the industry get back to the “healthy” and prosperous time period that it experienced back in the 90s. However, with the way TVB treats singers (through boycotting, banning, “freezing”, cutting artists’ songs/appearances, etc.), it’s definitely not healthy. Jacky understands how much work goes into creating a song and it pains him to see singers “disrespected” by having their songs banned or cut just because of a dispute with their record companies.

After Jacky made his position known, TVB started “boycotting” him – not only because he is one of the Big 4 record companies’ artists (Universal), but more importantly, it’s because they are petty and don’t like people saying negative things about them (though it’s the truth). Though TVB has not come right out and said they are banning him (they would never do that, as they need to “save face”), they have proven that they are banning or “retaliating” against Jacky through their actions.

Here are a few examples that I’ve seen in the past couple months (there are more, but this post is already becoming very long):

 Since Jacky spoke out prior to his film “72 Tenants” arriving in theaters, TVB could not really do anything obvious to jeopardize the film, since it’s their own film after all and they need to make money. So during all the promotional events for the movie, TVB would purposefully not “show” him in their news segments unless they absolutely had to (which was very few instances). Instead, they would focus the reports on Eric Tsang or their “favorite” artists such as Raymond Lam, Linda Chung, Bosco Wong, etc. etc. My reaction to this – who is the male lead in this series again? Last time I checked, the leads are Jacky and Eric, yet they only focus the promos on Eric and everyone else…

 During the 1 “defining moment” when Jacky and Eric interviewed with both TVB and i-Cable at the same time during the “72 Tenants” premiere (only because Eric Tsang purposefully made it happen to save TVB some face), TVB kept making it look like they are very “dai fong” (open-minded, welcoming), but yet, when that news segment aired on TVB, all of the i-Cable parts (and majority of Jacky’s interview) were “conveniently” edited out….

 When Jacky held his press conference for the release of his new album, he invited all the media organizations to attend – both i-Cable and ATV not only attended, they also sent news crews to cover the press conference. TVB, on the other hand, sent someone to attend the press conference (again to save face, since it would look too obvious that they were boycotting if they didn’t send anyone), but did not (more like would not) send a news crew to cover the event.

 Ok, this next one really pisses me off – when Harlem Yu (Jacky’s best friend) had a promo event for his HK concert, Jacky of course attended the event to support his friend (plus he’s the main musical guest, so of course it makes sense for him to be there). TVB sent a news crew to the event (because they don’t want to miss out and plus Harlem is a Taiwan artist, so I guess he is “exempt” from this royalties fiasco) – after covering the event, TVB’s news crew / reporters left the event, BUT THEN they went back to the event AFTER Jacky left so that they could interview Harlem. They obviously didn’t want to interview Harlem when Jacky was present because that means they would be forced to interview Jacky as well, so they instead went back after he left. I mean, HOW PETTY IS THAT???? Plus it is VERY DISRESPECTFUL AND RUDE!!!! And I don’t even want to go into the LAME excuse that TVB gave when the situation was all over the papers the next day – needless to say, the response they gave was a typical, lame, TVB lie.

 With the premiere of Jacky’s new romantic comedy “Crossing Hennessy” on 4/1 (way after he spoke out against TVB), there have been a lot of promotional events for the film. TVB did send news crews to cover some of the “big” events related to the movie (like the premiere), however their “backhanded actions” during their coverage makes it very obvious that they are still “boycotting” Jacky. For example, there was one segment on TVB entertainment news where TVB was on set during one of the events and Jacky was there – they showed shots of him “with the group” (because they had to, since they can’t “cut” him out of the group picture – haha!) but when it came to interviews, they refused to include him – in fact, this is where it gets interesting because during one of the events, TVB’s reporters interviewed almost everyone involved with the film EXCEPT Jacky and Paw Hee Ching (and Jacky is the MALE LEAD in the film) – the sad thing is that when they interviewed Andy On, they even interviewed Jennifer Tse (his girlfriend) and she’s NOT EVEN IN THE MOVIE!!! To me, it does not make any sense to interview everyone – even those who are not in the movie – yet, they don’t interview the MALE LEAD….if that’s not boycotting, I don’t know what is!

 Another recent example (this one is fresh off the press from several days ago): Eric Tsang celebrated his birthday several days ago by inviting a bunch of his friends and having a big party. Being one of his best friends, Jacky of course attended the event. In fact, he made an “exemption” for his friend by staying out late and drinking some alcohol with him (which he rarely does nowadays since his daughters were born). All of the newspapers that reported on Eric’s birthday party talked about many of the “guests” that attended and Jacky was always the first one mentioned (since he was one of the “biggest names” at the event). Yet, on TVB’s entertainment news, even though they covered the event and had an entire 10 minute segment dedicated to it, there was NO MENTION of Jacky at all in the coverage – in fact, they didn’t even show him at all in any of the clips that they showed of the guests. I mean, if you were to watch TVB’s biased coverage, you would think that Jacky wasn’t even there – but yet he was one of the biggest guest there! Is that screwed up or what??? I mean, isn’t it obvious that TVB is boycotting him when there is such a HUGE disparity between what every single non-TVB media organization reported /showed and what they showed? Am I the only one who sees this??

At the end of the day, it all boils down to politics -- plain and simple. And perhaps TVB is able to get away with it time and time again because they are such a huge powerhouse and practically monopolize the TV industry in Hong Kong -- it's unfair, frustrating, and annoying....and unfortunately there's nothing we can do about it because majority of the people choose to ignore it….


  1. Yay, you delivered the article - at last part 1. Then we would - the readers - would have to wait for part 2.

    And come on now, they're not really boycotting Jacky, it was just because they were having technical difficulties. AND how they had to run out and change batteries and other stuffs constantly that they could not cover the full event. SO of course they weren't able to capture Jacky parts. You got to give them a break right?

    MAN, you know that was sarcasm, right? LOL! But I think some fans still stay true to TVB regardless of their politics. IF you know what I mean.

  2. LOL! Yup..I know exactly what you mean. Wait, I think they actually used that technical difficulties excuse as a response already...hahaha!

    Anyway, I know majority of the people will side with TVB, since they are a big company and monopolize the TV industry after all...I'm probably one of the few on the opposite side of the fence....oh well...TVB will get what it deserves one of these days...

  3. I was making it up as I go along. To think that they are a big company and they used that technical difficulties excuse? I know it does exist in circumstances BUT that's a bit far-fetch that they got everyone's interview or segments/clips, except for Jacky. IF they could only manage to get some and had difficulties later, it would be more believable. Who are they lying to? But you're right, people who are siding with TVB are actually believing it.

  4. oh llwy12 I absolute love your TVB rants! lol just read the first article several more to go. I've ranted about TVB who know how many times until I got tired of ranting and just watched less of their dramas. Plus I'm so happy over the copyright dispute and TVB still had nerve to go freeze Stephanie Cheng recently just cause she swore when asked about something. ><" what are we in elementary school? And they act like freezing her will really matter when 80% of Hk singers aren't even contracted or going on TVB anymore! Plus reporters especially HK's can be so rude to their own people yet be so polite to outside artists <.< I've learned and heard that from Justin Lo's interviews, the way they interview him versus Gary with the whole fighting incident is completely different! Even before the fighting incident they were always so rude to him. Anyway now I know why TVB boycotted Jacky. I guess I rant less about TVB nowadays cause I really care about HK's music industry and for them to monopolize it and setting up these petty rules. The Cantonese thing was so a violation of human's freedom of speech! To think the government was actually ok with that is ridiculous! Well I guess it can't be helped since HK is under Mainland China and they tried to impose a similar even more extreme rule in guangzhou for all tv stations that resulted in huge protest!

  5. @sport3888: Hi there! Welcome to my blog! Glad to hear that you enjoy reading the posts! :-)

    First of all, just wanted to say welcome to the "I can't stand TVB" club...there are only a few exclusive members -- mostly those who frequent my blog and enjoy my TVB rants..LOL!

    You would think that I'd get tired of ranting about them by now, since I've been doing it for practically a decade now -- but considering I've been following TVB for more than 20 years (and my family has been following for longer than that), I can't help noticing alot of the stupid things that TVB does and ranting about it. I would love to hear your opinion about the topics I rant about, so feel free to leave comments if you'd like!

    I totally understand your point regarding the boycotting of singers -- it's obviously a stupid move that TVB does just to save face (and remember that TVB's politics are always going to come first for them -- that's why their responses to stuff are always so LAME!)

    As for the Cantonese thing -- well, I don't necessarily think the government is "ok" with it persay, it's just that TVB is deceptive and don't put that kind of stuff in writing (remember that they always say they welcome artists to interview with other stations in Cantonese) -- so even if the gov't wanted to do something about it, they can't because they have no proof (that's another reason why TVB gets away with so much...)