Monday, December 10, 2012

News Article: Ricky Wong’s two main tactics to ‘grab’ audiences; targets TVB’s pain points

Here's an article from the latest issue of Mingpao Weekly that summarizes CTI / HKTV's Sales Presentation event from earlier in the week.  Out of all the articles I've read about the event so far, this article is one of the better ones in that it uses language that is more neutral and doesn't automatically try to put CTI/HKTV in a negative light from the get-go like most of the other articles from other Media sources have been doing. 

I like how this particular article summarizes some of the main differences between the trailers for CTI/HKTV's series versus other stations while at the same time getting first-hand information from Ricky Wong on what some of his upcoming plans are.  Most important of all, this article addresses the whole 'supporting artist' versus 'leading artist' thing in a fair way -- instead of automatically 'bashing' CTI/HKTV's artists as being 'inferior' just because they are not 'first line siu sangs and fadans', the writer of the article actually poses the question to Ricky Wong and gives him the chance to 'explain' the reasoning behind it.

Overall, this article is a good summary of CTI/HKTV's Sales Presentation -- definitely a 'must-read' for those who have been following the whole TV wars thing!


Ricky Wong’s two main tactics to ‘grab’ audiences; targets TVB’s pain points

Source:  Mingpao Weekly, Issue 2300
Translation:  llwy12

For Ricky Wong’s (王維) HKTV (formerly CTI) to be a ‘formidable’ opponent facing a strong, long-standing TV station (TVB) that has enjoyed a virtual monopoly in the HK television market for such a long time, audiences are most concerned with what type of ‘advantage’ HKTV will have over its opponent and what will set them apart from the competition?
With their Sales Presentation event that took place this past Tuesday (December 4th), HKTV seemed to take a ‘full attack’ approach in declaring ‘war’ against TVB -- the behind-the-scenes production crew, which consists primarily of producers, scriptwriters, and directors who were ‘poached’ from TVB earlier in the year, seem to be especially motivated in this ‘battle’ against their former employer.  Based on the preview clips of the 12 series shown during HKTV’s Sales Presentation, the subject matter explored as well as filming techniques used definitely break through the ‘usual’ family friendly fare we are used to seeing with TVB.   Despite the fact that HKTV has not gotten their free-to-air TV license yet and Ricky Wong is ‘burning money’ every day with virtually no incoming profits, that has not stopped the fledgling station from continuing their recruitment efforts -- reportedly, Ricky Wong has targeted a bunch of artists whose contracts with TVB are scheduled to expire in 2014.  Given that a ‘fierce battle’ between the 2 stations appears to be ‘inevitable’ at this point,  it’s no surprise then that TVB does not dare to let down its guard – on the day of HKTV’s Sales Presentation (December 4th), TVB urgently called together many of their first / second line siu sangs and fadans to participate in a special Anniversary Awards promotional event to ‘showcase’ their continued dominance in the TV realm.
The biggest advantage of working under Ricky Wong’s leadership is the ‘unlimited freedom’ that he gives his staff.  Not having to worry about the ‘burdens’ and limitations that other companies face, HKTV is therefore able to take a more ‘daring’ approach with their series, exploring themes and topics that HK audiences are not used to seeing.  For example:  in the horror-themed series Frightful Century (驚異世) – starring Dominic Lam (林嘉), Leila Tong (), Noelle Leung (梁小), etc. – there are many gory, bloody, graphic scenes such as someone eating internal organs, a person’s detached head rolling off of a body, a severed head inside a washing machine, etc. – the ‘scariness’ factor is through the roof!  In the media news –themed series Fiery News Catalyst (導火新聞) led by Noelle Leung and Catherine Chau (周家), a pregnant woman jumps off the top of a building after her identity as the victim of a rape case is revealed by a news agency.  Even though the ‘jumping off a building’ concept is something seen often in TVB series, the biggest difference here is that HKTV uses more than just one or two shots to ‘show’ the situation occurring – the ‘realistic nature’ in which HKTV filmed that particular scene helped them to capture the audiences’ ‘horrified reactions’ to the scene.  In the trailer for the plastic surgery-themed medical series Three Sides of Shape Doctors (三面形), singer Lesley Chiang (姜麗) has a kissing scene with actress Candy Cheung Suet Kan (張雪), while in the time travel series Second Life (第二人), Wilfred Lau (劉浩) and Chao Sin Wan (趙善) also share a same sex kiss scene – these types of scenes hardly ever appear in HK television series.  Even the 2 ‘heavyweight’ series – Hakka Women (客家女) starring Maggie Cheung (張可) and Prudence Liew (劉美), and Age of Housing Passion (歲月樓) starring Ha Yu (), Paw Hee Ching (鮑起), and Felix Wong (黃日) – have a very meticulous style to its filming and storytelling -- with its ‘movie-like’ feel, the trailers definitely give a feeling of ‘freshness’.
HKTV’s series are both ‘spicy’ and ‘non-spicy’
After the trailers were released, some audiences claimed that HKTV is trying too hard to break through the barriers of traditional HK television by ‘pushing the envelope’ and challenging broadcasting industry standards.  During an interview with our magazine, HKTV’s chairman Ricky Wong responded by saying that his station is not trying to ‘push the limits’ just for the heck of it – instead, they are trying to take all audience’s tastes into consideration:  “To put it simply:  some people like to eat ‘spicy’ foods and some people don’t!   Our plans include 2 different versions of the series – the version that airs on television will be for those audiences who can’t take ‘spicy’ things while the web version will be for those who are able to take the ‘spiciness’.  Since there are fewer restrictions with the Internet, there will be some scenes in the series that will only be available in the on-line version.  We have some staff who actually worked at the Broadcasting Authority [TN:  now called Communications Authority] before and so are very familiar with broadcasting regulations and restrictions.  Our goal is to produce programming that reflects everyday life and also gives a realistic feeling.”
Targeting artists whose contracts expire in 2014
As for recent rumors that HKTV is already ‘targeting’ artists whose contracts with TVB expire at the end of 2013 / beginning of 2014, with quite a few lead actors and actresses amongst them, Ricky Wong confirmed that was the case, but would not provide further details:  “I won’t reveal any names – all I can say is that the number of additional artists will range anywhere from 20 to 30 people.” 
Even with the number of artists that HKTV currently has, there are only a handful – such as Felix Wong, Maggie Cheung, Frankie Lam, etc. – who can truly be considered ‘first-line’ leading actors/actresses.  Towards this, Ricky Wong explained:  “From the beginning, it has always been harder to find good supporting ‘green leaf’ actors/actresses, such as Felix Lok (駱應), Samuel Kwok (), etc.  Back during the  previous TV wars, Rediffusion Television (RTV) tried ‘poaching’ many leading actors and actresses, yet in the end, they still weren’t able to win.  Actually, it’s not difficult to find good-looking young actors / actresses in their 20s – only problem is that these types of artists are the ones who are also easy to replace.  That’s why I feel that it’s more important to ensure the foundation is strong by ensuring that the  ‘pillars’ are steady – this means having a large number of talented, experienced artists with strong acting skills on hand.  At the same time, you may feel that some of the artists are relatively unknown with television audiences – such as award-winning theater actor Poon Chan Leung (潘燦) and Joman Chiang (蔣祖) for instance – but that’s because we don’t have our license yet and so we aren’t able to provide a ‘platform’ to introduce them to TV audiences;  however, once we have that ‘platform’, things will be different, since TV audiences will get the chance to become familiar with them.  Also, in addition to recruiting experienced artists, we are also in the process of training quite a few newcomers.”  [TN:  Many people may not realize this, since the Media has not focused much on it, but HKTV/CTI does have Acting Classes (as well as Scriptwriting classes, Directing classes, etc.)  just like TVB and ATV do.  Many of the younger, lesser known artists participating in HKTV’s series are graduates of HKTV/CTI’s Acting Classes.]


  1. thanks for translating!
    I agree, this article puts it way better. I was getting annoyed with the other outlets bashing how HKTV had ' no name 'artists. Well, at least they recognize talent!

    I'm not too keen on the idea of Mr. Wong and MORE poaching. I think it's enough. He should look elsewhere for talent. Maybe try Universities with drama majors or something.

    1. Well I guess it won't hurt to get some of the younger leads over but I do agree that Ricky Wong should look elsewhere for talent! Especially those graduating from the HK Academy of Performing Arts because history points out that those graduating from that school are top-notch actors (ex: some movie kings: Anthony Wong, TseKwanHo, and tv actors such as Sunny Chan, Power Chan, KooMingWa, etc

    2. @sport3888: Well, one thing I do like right now is that HKTV does seem to have a decent mix of old and young artists and they seem to be “treating” them all fairly well so far. To Ricky Wong’s credit, he does have a few artists who graduated from HKAPA, such as Rain Lau and Emily Kwan for example – I’m sure there are probably more, they just probably are not as ‘known’.

      I do agree though that RW should start looking elsewhere for talent instead of focusing too much effort on poaching TVB’s current artists. I liked his strategy of recruiting some of the veteran artists whom we haven’t seen in a long time to film series for him (i.e. Mimi Kung, Noel Leung, Yu Mo Lian, Ng Yuen Yi, etc.) and bringing artists from other ‘disciplines’ (i.e. movies and music) together as well. I know for me, I got really excited and emotional watching the clips from the sales presentation event because I saw so many artists in attendance whom I had grown up watching and whom I thought had pretty much ‘disappeared’ from the television (entertainment) industry – brought back a lot of great memories!

    3. @huama: Sorry, just realized I forgot to respond to your comment…oops!

      Anyway, as I stated in my response to sport3888, I totally agree with you guys – Ricky Wong should start looking elsewhere for talent rather than continuing to ‘poach’ TVB. I mean, I understand what his intentions are in ‘targeting’ TVB, but now that his ‘team’ is already established, there’s no need for him to continuing going that route – it’s just going to make some people dislike him even more than they already do (if that’s even possible).