As I’m sure all of you already know by now, the biggest ‘news’ related to the HK entertainment industry this week was that, after 4 years of waiting, the HK government FINALLY made a decision on the free TV license applications. HK’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So announced the decision during a press conference that was held the day before yesterday.
Normally, I would be thrilled – after all, these past few years, I’ve been a big supporter of the whole free TV license thing and was really hoping that finally, TVB’s monopoly over the TV industry would be broken. BUT instead of being happy, I’m more angry than anything else….WHY? Because once again, the stupid HK government (which can’t seem to do anything right nowadays) made a lame-arse decision that pretty much ‘reinforces’ TVB’s stronghold on the TV industry rather than breaking it. Out of the 3 companies that submitted applications for free TV licenses, the government decided to approve and issue licenses to only 2 companies: NowTV and i-Cable. Yes, you read it right – only 2 licenses were approved, which means that the 3rd company, HKTV’s, license application was ‘rejected’ (read that to mean that no license will be issued to HKTV). When pressed about why HKTV’s license application was rejected, Mr. So refused to give a direct answer – instead, he kept going on and on about how they looked at many different criteria in order to come up with their decision and that the entire process was ‘fair and transparent’. The only ‘hint’ that Mr. So would give about why HKTV was rejected was that their proposal was ‘weak’ in comparisons to the other 2 (um, talk about being ‘vague’….). To add insult to injury, Mr. So also stated that the decision was final and that no ‘appeals’ will be allowed (any company that wishes to ‘protest’ the decision can only do so via the means of filing a judicial review through the courts).
In response to the government’s decision, HKTV’s Ricky Wong held a press conference yesterday expressing his disappointment at the government’s decision while at the same time demanding to know the ‘cause of death’ (aka why his application was rejected). He also announced that HKTV won’t be closing shop, however he will need to lay off 320 employees in order to restructure the company in preparation for the challenges ahead.
Ok, so on to MY reaction to this whole thing….
Obviously, I’m pissed. Why? Ok, yes, a big part of it is because HKTV didn’t get their license after being ‘played’ by the government for 4 years (if I were Ricky Wong, I would absolutely sue the pants off those bastards). I mean, honestly, I can’t think of any other word to describe what HKTV went through except that they were ‘played’ -- after all, the HK government was the one who ‘invited’ HKTV to submit an application 4 years ago, saying that they felt it was time to open up the HK free TV market. Not only that, the Broadcasting Authority (now the Communications Authority) had already given their recommendation that all 3 companies should be issued licenses, plus the people of HK had all spoken up in support of this (HKTV had a 60 to 80% approval rating in various polls that were conducted throughout the past 4 years). Yet now, the government decides to go back on their word and only issue 2 licenses because they feel that the market in HK can’t sustain more than 4 stations? Well, why the hell didn’t they think of that 4 years ago????
Another reason I’m pissed is because of the fact that the government ‘refuses’ to explain why they rejected HKTV’s application. I don’t know about you guys, but to me, it only makes sense that if you’re going to give someone the death penalty, you have an obligation to explain exactly why and how you came to that decision (sure, people can argue that this isn’t a ‘life or death’ situation, but honestly, I beg to differ, since people’s livelihoods are at stake). The fact that the government continues to skirt the issue and will only give vague responses tells me that there is more to the decision than meets the eye. Of course, the past few days, the reaction to the government’s decision has been huge and many people feel that the rejection of HKTV’s license application was politically motivated (despite the government’s insistence that ‘no political factors were involved’). I can’t help but agree – the way this whole thing is playing out reeks of political maneuvering….in fact, I wouldn’t even be surprised if some ‘under the table’ dealings took place in order for the outcome to be what it ended up being (I’m not going to elaborate further on this – you guys can read between the lines….)
Third, the biggest reason why I’m pissed is because the HK government once again ignored the needs of its citizens and, to add salt to an already open wound, they just put 320 people out of jobs. I guess in a sense, I shouldn’t be surprised, since, well, it’s government after all (if anyone knows of any government in this world that actually listens to its citizens and doesn't screw them over, please let me know because I would definitely like to live there…LOL). I definitely feel sorry for the HKTV artists and behind the scenes people who will now be out of jobs…I’m especially saddened because majority of the artists who went to HKTV are people whom I grew up watching on TV the past 3 decades – after being ‘treated like crap’ by TVB, many of these artists went to HKTV and were treated extremely well (HKTV restored many of these artists’ dignity, pride, and passion for acting)….unfortunately, now all of that will go to waste…(when I think about how some of those artists may have to go ‘crawling’ back to TVB now, it pisses me off even more…).
Obviously, I could go on and on about this topic, especially given how much of my time I’ve spent these past 3 years or so ‘following’ this whole free TV license issue. But for the purposes of this topic, I think it’s probably wise for me to conclude my post here rather than continue my ‘rant’ for another few pages (people who are familiar with my blog know that I try to stay away from political issues in my writings as much as possible)…..given the political element involved in this issue, I’ve probably said too much already….
For those who may be interested in reading up on this issue, here are a few links I recommend (the articles are all in English, so no translation necessary…):
From South China Morning Post:
From The Standard: