Sunday, March 22, 2015

News Article: Fox to boost Hong Kong television industry with US$1m-per-episode miniseries

I just read the below article and to be honest, I don't know what to make of it.  On the one hand, Fox investing in filming TV series in HK means more job opportunities for local artists, so I guess that's not a bad thing?  But on the other hand, it also means that the HK television industry has declined so badly that it's to the point of being unsustainable and so now it needs "foreigners" to come in a "save" it, which also means that the local industry will lose its unique Hong Kong flavor.

Ok, some may say that I'm thinking too much into things, but taking a step back, am I wrong to be concerned?  I mean, I don't know about you guys, but if we use a business comparison, this definitely sounds like a "corporate takeover" to me!  I'm assuming the HK government had to give the green light for this to happen -- my question is:  why?  Shouldn't the HK government be trying to preserve HK's television industry rather than open it up to other countries to come in?   Yes, I agree that there is a severe lack of competition in the HK television market due to TVB's monopoly and that it's necessary to open the market in order to promote healthy competition -- but then shouldn't that be more reason to grant HKTV a license so they CAN openly compete with TVB (along with Now TV and i-Cable, who were already granted free-to-air TV licenses 2 years ago)?  What sense does it make to do everything possible to deny local competition, then turn around and open the doors to outside competition?  Someone please explain that one to me because I am completely baffled at the HK government's reasoning!!

Reading the last 4 paragraphs of the article is especially depressing...and in a way, it makes me especially angry.  Come on now -- anyone who has been paying attention the past decade (and more) knows how badly TVB's monopoly has hurt the HK television industry!  Heck, even TVB themselves know it, which is probably why they've put so much focus on expanding to Mainland China the past few years.  I honestly don't feel it's a coincidence that TVB announced earlier in the year that the direction of the company in the coming years is to focus more on the Mainland China market -- my guess is that they saw the writing on the wall already and figured if anything happens with the HK market, they always have the Mainland market to fall back on.  Ok, fine...if that's the case and they're giving up on the HK market, then why not let HKTV and the others in to take over?  Instead, they are essentially destroying the industry (with the help of the corrupt government), then running away when everything is in ruins so they can save their you-know-what  (those selfish bastards!).  After reading that last segment of the article about TVB, four Chinese words come to mind: 玉石俱焚 (which literally means "burning both the jade and the stone" -- layperson's translation is 'eating most of the pie and destroying the rest of it so others can have any').

And isn't it ironic that there has been so much talk the past year from TVB and the government about the need for new technology and how audiences nowadays don't watch series on TV sets anymore so it's necessary to expand to internet and other mobile platforms?  Well, isn't that exactly what HKTV is doing with their recent launch on the internet and mobile platform?  But I guess it's "wrong" if HKTV does it but "right" if TVB were to do it....

Anyway....did anyone else get the same sentiment after reading this article?  Or am getting all riled up unnecessarily again?


Fox to boost Hong Kong television industry with US$1m-per-episode miniseries

Source:  SCMP

American giant 21st Century Fox will give Hong Kong's television industry a major shot in the arm with a massive investment in making programmes in the city for the Asian and international market.

The company's Fox International Channels will spend US$1 million per episode on one or two miniseries per year in the city, using Hong Kong production talent and local stars. The first two will go into production this year.

It is one of the biggest investments ever by a Western firm in television production in Asia. One local expert said it would help the city's television industry - once a regional powerhouse - regain ground on its rivals.

Cora Yim, senior vice-president of Fox International Channels, told the South China Morning Post that a year and a half of development had gone into the first two shows. The first title, Guilty as Sin, is said to be set in Hong Kong and tell a local story. The second is said to have an "Asian scale" and will be shot primarily in English for an audience both within and beyond the region, Yim said.

"We plan to produce premium miniseries; high-concept television made by film talents from here," said Yim, who serves as the channels' head of Chinese entertainment and territory head for Hong Kong. "Many film directors in Hollywood are producing television but this has yet become a trend in Asia. We want to bring US standards to Asia."

The main platform for the new series - which will be six to eight episodes long - will be Star Chinese Movies, a Fox subscription channel available in much of Asia. The channel previously launched an initiative called Go Local! to produce films for local audiences in Asia. In Hong Kong, that led to a partnership with Emperor Motion Pictures to produce edgy films with an eye on a local, rather than mainland, audience.

Among the fruits of that deal is Sara, a sexually charged drama, which has netted HK$12.4 million at the box office since its release earlier this month.

Fox is negotiating with potential partners in the region and Yim says she hopes to complete some deals during FILMART, the annual film and television trade gathering that opens at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai today.

The international television industry has changed, Yim says. Content production was no longer tied to a single channel's platform as shown by the likes of Netflix, the on-demand streaming service that has yet to launch in Asia but has 57 million subscribers worldwide. Netflix grew by offering other broadcasters' shows on demand, but has since branched out into original content.

Yim said that model contrasted starkly with Hong Kong, where free-to-air player TVB dominates. Ricky Wong Wai-kay's HKTV attempted to break the stranglehold by spending HK$1 million per episode on drama. But Wong failed to win a free-to-air licence and has launched online, a first for the city.

Peter Lam Yuk-wah, vice-president of the Hong Kong Televisioners Association, said Hong Kong had been the leader in television production around the region, but TVB's monopoly had hurt its competitiveness. South Korea and mainland China, in particular, had taken advantage.

He welcomed the investment in the ailing industry and said technology would revolutionise the platform, giving birth to a new business model outside the terrestrial television network.


  1. Not sure how I feel about "Fox" the well known racist and homophobic tv station investing in HK! Not to mention it's not like Fox has been doing very well with their American shows. If it was CW or US Network investing in HK then that's something I would look for two.

    HK government is so messed! It's ok for them to kill off local competitors like HKTV who's willing to spend money to film quality series while allowing foreign companies to take over!

    I guess I'll go with Hocc's quote, "Any change is a good change" mentality.
    Truth is HKTV's online platform won't be enough to compete with TVB unless they get a license. Although internet reviews have all been positive with many saying HKTV's series are way better and that TVB's dead.

    Don't know so long as the series they're filming are great then I'll watch. I've always wanted HK actors/artistes to film in English for some series and now that dream will come true! I just hope they'll find people who are actually fluent in English.

    1. @sport: Sorry took me so long to respond! :-)

      I actually don't follow Hollywood or the American television / movie industry as closely as I do HK's entertainment industry (yes, I know it's ironic considering I live in the U.S.). It has actually been a long time since I watched an American TV series (I watched alot growing up in the 80s and 90s, but not much in recent years), so I'm not completely up to speed on the latest happenings.

      In any case, I'm still "on the fence" with this whole Fox filming in HK thing, mostly because I'm not sure what type of impact it will have on the HK entertainment industry. I guess once I understand the scope of this move and the impact, I'll be able to better determine which direction to take.

      In terms of HK artists filming in English -- I'm actually opposite in that I don't prefer it. There are actually very few HK actors/actresses out there who are able to speak good enough / fluent enough English to be able to film entirely in that language (I'm referring to the artists who can actually act, not the young pageant winners and such who grew up overseas and speak fluent English but can't act to save their lives). If they have to film in English, most likely it will end up being the same few artists in every series...

      Also, perhaps I'm too used to seeing Asians stereotyped in American TV shows and movies, so I have no confidence whatsoever that Fox isn't going to do the same thing here. Most of what Hollywood and American producers / directors / writers, etc. know about Chinese culture is extremely limited and very few actually take the time to understand what our culture is about beyond 'kung fu' and 'Panda Express'. Personally, I'm not interested in watching any type of American made Chinese show because to me, that type of show already loses its ethnic flavor.

  2. hey ll jeh, it's me kk.
    you're not the only one who's thinking too much into this. i also feel kinda uneasy about this whole idea.

    ricky wong might not be a likeable person but he sure loves HK more than any of those greedy cctvb executives, i believe that at this time he might be the only one who can produce high quality HK dramas w/o losing that "unique HK flavor".

    beside ricky wong there's still tvb if they decide to do something lol, i dont' think it's hard to save the local television industry, it's all depend on tvb actually, first they need to put more money into each drama, secondly they better start promoting people that deserve more promotion instead of those annoying actors that keep show up in tvb dramas lately. but we all know tvb will never do this lol.

    but talking about investing more money into drama, i don't understand tvb mentality lately, we all know tvb is cheap and don't spend much money on production, yet they're willing to spend around 1mil to edit that stupid mainland fang bing bing drama. or is there something more that i'm missing?'s a big mess in HK right now...

    @sport3888: may i dare to be different, i don't really care if HK actors film in English. it's HK so i like it that they speak canto majority of the time lol (as long as there eng sub lol). plus when it comes to asian dramas involved speaking English w/ investment from foreigners, i'm afraid they will demote HK actors to kelefe or irrelevant roles. that's why i hate the time chow chun fat went to hollywood, what a waste of talent, look what kind of movies hollywood produce for the talented fat gor.
    Fox is racist and homophobic? if i remember correctly, they have Empire and Glee. or are you mix up w/ fox news? lol

    1. @kk: Good to see you around again! :-)

      I agree that Ricky Wong loves HK more than any of those greedy cctvb executives (and actually even more than that useless CY Leung)...but unfortunately, he's only 1 person and it's pretty much him against the corrupt government (and indirectly against the CCP in Mainland). Contrary to popular belief, the people actually have no say in the matter because, well, as we are very often reminded, HK is not a democracy so to hell with what the people think / feel / want.

      And we already know TVB is not going to do anything except remain complacent. I mean, they've already established their name, they have 40+ years of rich history to back them up (how many times have you heard them refer back to the 'glory days' of the 70s/80s/90s? I've actually heard current management talk about it alot, which further proves to me that they are just riding on the coattails of past glory), they have a dedicated following (look at all those die-hard TVB fans out there who were first in line to bash HKTV when they emerged on scene a few years ago -- and still blindly / irrationally bash them even now). As long as they continue to make money and don't feel any threat to their existence or well-being, TVB is going to continue in its 'complacent' position.

      To be honest -- with TVB, the way to improve the quality of their dramas isn't through money....they could throw millions of dollars into a production and still end up with the same crap. What they really need to do is change their antiquated policies and practices as well as change their mindset to allow for more creative freedom and a better work environment. If we think about it, this is really the crux of what made HKTV successful in producing quality series and also having such dedicated employees (remember back when HKTV lost the license battle and had to layoff several hundred employees -- not a single one of those employees were angry at Ricky Wong or HKTV, despite losing their jobs. In fact, they all gathered in Ricky's office and cried and pledged to return if he ends up starting production again. To this day, I rarely hear anything negative from any artists or behind the scenes people who used to work for HKTV or collaborated with them in any way (in comparisons, look at how many former TVB people have criticized TVB over the decades..).

      As to why TVB decided to spend so much money editing that Empress of China drama -- well, it depends on which way you look at it. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to say that ccTVB is kissing up to its parents up North....though the other part of me wants to say that those TVB execs continue to have their heads in the clouds and are banking on the hope that history will repeat itself...after all, don't forget which series broke records when it aired and has the honor of being one of the highest rated series in TVB history: Korea's hit Jewel in the Palace (sorry for not putting the Korean name -- I didn't want to butcher it). As is their typical pattern, they are riding on the coattails of past glory (it's the same mentality they take with all those stupid sequels)...they know they won't be able to produce quality series nowadays, so they're probably hoping that one of those foreign-bought series will become the next Jewel in the Palace.