Thursday, September 19, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: TVB fined HK$900,000 for anti-competition practices **UPDATED**


I just saw the below article in the news and I must say that I almost jumped up and down for joy after I read it (LOL)!!

FINALLY the government is doing something right!  TVB should have been penalized long ago for their ‘antics’ and it looks like now it’s finally happening (albeit it still took a long time, since according to the article, ATV filed their claims in 2009 and the CA just issued a ruling today – 4 years later!).

The part that I’m most happy about is that the CA is requiring TVB to ‘abandon’ the anti-competitive practices within 3 months – which means that they would no longer be able to restrict artists from appearing on other TV stations and such.  So in other words, there is ‘hope’ that the TVB monopoly will finally be broken (though of course, since TVB is planning on filing an appeal, this could still be tangled up in the courts for awhile).

Anyway, still happy nonetheless…gotta go celebrate now!  See ya!!


TVB fined HK$900,000 for anti-competition practices

Hong Kong’s free-to-air broadcaster Television Broadcasts (TVB) was fined HK$900,000 by the city’s communications watchdog on Thursday for engaging in anti-competition practices.

These included “harsh and unreasonable” terms in contracts with some artistes and singers, and a “no Cantonese policy” that prohibits TVB contract artistes from speaking Cantonese on other Hong Kong TV stations’ programmes, the Communications Authority said on Thursday.

The authority earlier launched an investigation into TVB, the bigger of the city’s two free-to-air television broadcasters, after rival Asia Television (ATV) lodged a complaint in December 2009 alleging that the station violated the competition provisions of the Broadcasting Ordinance.

Two other policies adopted by TVB concerning its artistes on serial-based and one-show contracts were also deemed to be anti-competition practices, the authority said.

These involved banning artistes on these contracts from using their original voices when performing on other TV stations’ programmes, and from attending promotional activities for the productions of other stations which also featured the performers concerned.

In serial-based contracts, TVB and its artistes agree to a rate for a drama series of varying lengths. In one-show contracts, artistes are only signed for a minimum one-show commitment at agreed-upon rates with the station.

There were also exclusive occasional-use artiste and singer contracts where they were engaged on a show-by-show basis. They would appear in TVB shows “if the need arises” and the broadcaster has no obligation to use the contracted performers.

The authority said TVB had a significant number of artistes under one-show, serial-based and singer contracts, who were not fully engaged during the contractual period and were fully capable of rendering their services to rival local stations but were still subject to the exclusivity terms.

Although artistes and singers could apply to TVB for its consent for appearance on rival stations under these contracts, the station had approved none of these applications between 2007 and 2010.

“The clauses artificially impair rivals’ ability to produce high-quality TV productions to compete with TVB and have also raised rivals’ costs by making it more expensive for them to produce or acquire TV programmes featuring [these] artistes,” the authority said.

“The authority is of the view that the ‘exclusive clauses’ have the purpose and effect of foreclosing rivals’ access to artistes and singers.”

The maximum penalty allowed by law for anti-competition violations is HK$1 million.  Given that the station made remedies, including cancelling one-show contracts, the authority reached the conclusion that a fine of HK$900,000 was appropriate..

Apart from the fine, TVB is required to abandon its anti-competition practices within three months and issue a public statement within two weeks to state that it will no longer require its singers and artistes to refrain from speaking Cantonese on other TV stations in Hong Kong. It also has to submit a report to the authority within four months.

Former TVB artist Felix Wong Yat-wah, now with HKTV, applauded the authority's  findings, caliing them “righteous”.

Additional reporting Amy Nip


TVB released an official statement a few hours after the CA's ruling in which they responded to the CA's decision and also emphasized 4 main points...

TVB’s official statement in response to the Communications Authority’s ruling:

1)      TVB has given its full cooperation to the Communications Authority throughout the investigation into this matter.

2)      ATV’s ‘complaints’ are unwarranted and without merit.  Therefore, we feel that the Communication Authority’s ruling is disappointing, regrettable, and without basis.

3)      TVB has always been the ‘foundation’ [TN: TVB used the word ‘cradle’] for the training and cultivation of talent for the Hong Kong entertainment industry.  Over the years, TVB has cultivated and trained over a thousand stars for the music, movie, and television industries, with many of these stars entering the international arena and bringing pride to HK people.  The foundation for these great accomplishments are based on our first-rate artist management policies as well as the tremendous investment of resources over the years.

4)      There are countless artists out there who choose to pursue a career in the entertainment industry and are not TVB contracted artists.  Therefore, we feel that our policies with regard to TVB-contracted artists do not hinder the operations of other TV stations or affect the overall development of the industry.

Towards the Communication Authority’s investigation and outcome, TVB will consult with our legal experts and seek further legal action as necessary.


  1. The thing is how effective would the court ruling be? Even if not explicitly stated on the contract, some artists may not want to run afoul of TVB by appearing on other stations or interviewing in Canto.

    1. @miriamfanz: Very good fact, that has already been happening (a reporter from another station asked Joey Yung what she thought about the CA's ruling and she immediately responded back to them in Mandarin). Honestly, there will always be artists who are loyal to TVB and will still honor their 'unwritten rules' even if they don't have to -- that's pretty much unavoidable and if they choose to do it, then fine. But at least for the artists who were doing it because they 'had' to as part of their contract, they now have the freedom to choose and if TVB tries to 'retaliate' against the artists for their choice, then TVB can be 'held to the fire' me, that's the important part...

    2. For singers and per contract artistes it will be helpful but for the managed by TVB I doubt they'll dare to defy them even if the law enforced.

      If the government really wanted to get rid of the monopoly they should release a law saying artistes can't be managed by a television station and must be managed by outside company. Other countries don't have artistes managed by tv stations right? So why should HK be different? They should be like US where artistes sign on for a series and have to renew that contract up to a certain time. Which is why you always see news of whether a American sitcom would continue due to certain actor wanting to do something else or only renewing for 1 more season of the show. Of course if the show is successful that means TVB needs to pay more for those artistes which they won't like.

    3. @sport3888: I completely agree with you! Oh and great point about TV stations not managing artists...I actually blogged about a similar topic last year. I've always been of the sentiment that TVB should just do what it's title tells it to do -- that is, be a TV station and that's it and get rid of any other 'extraneous' responsibilities not associated with a TV station (including music, artist management, movies, etc.).