Thursday, January 14, 2016

HK entertainment industry recent updates

As I was posting in a some forums last night, I came to the realization that not everyone may be aware of all the ‘turmoil’ that has been going on in the HK entertainment industry (and in HK as a whole) lately, so I felt the urge to write the below ‘recap’ as a means of summarizing some of the main issues.

First, the obvious piece of news that I’m sure everyone knows about:  ATV having to close up shop by April of this year.  Despite the shameless (and delusional) management at ATV continuing to keep the station on life support for as long as possible and refusing to accept the fact that their license was actually taken away by the government, the reality is that ATV has an ‘end date’ – whether the management team likes it or not, well, too bad…they just have to deal with it!  Personally, I would like ATV to close up shop sooner rather than later, as I’m tired of hearing the nonsensical garbage that comes out of the mouths of their imbecilic management – I mean, ok fine, be in denial all you want, but do you really think, Mr. CEO, that you can continue to be late with paying your employees (which is an issue in and of itself, as it’s obvious despite all the lawsuits and the judge’s warning about what will happen if ATV continues to not pay employees, ATV doesn’t give a crap, since they once again delayed paying their employees in Decemer), do absolutely nothing to prove that you deserve a license, then submit an application for a license and brag to everyone and their mothers that they are “100% certain” that the government will approve and re-issue a license to them?  Do you even know how utterly RIDICULOUS you sound??  I’m actually surprised that the government hasn’t taken any ‘drastic’ action against ATV given all the laws they’ve violated this past year, plus the fact that ATV has been ‘implicating’ time and time again that the government is ‘corrupt’, as they keep claiming that the government will approve this and that and will side with them and give them a license due to all their ‘connections’. [Meanwhile, the government relentlessly goes after HKTV and looks under rocks to find whatever way possible to force them out of the HK television market, despite the fact that HKTV followed all the proper procedures and never said or did anything that could be construed as ‘anti-HK government’ (that is, until their license was denied, after which Ricky Wong publicly denounced CY Leung – and rightfully so in my opinion)].  Oh, and what about that ‘new investor’ from Mainland who supposedly bought ATV?  After ATV’s ‘high profile’ announcement a few months ago that they had a buyer and the repeated claims that ‘everything will be fine now’, news about the sale has died down in recent months.  When asked about the sale and the new investor, ATV’s management appear to be clueless, as all they would say is that they don’t know any details but assume that things are ‘in the works’.  Yeah, whatever…I think 99.9% of the HK population doesn’t even give a damn about ATV anymore….

So while ATV is still holding on for dear life, those shameless bastards at TVB (I’m referring to the management team here) are sitting back on their laurels and gloating about being victorious once again with defending their monopoly (with the help of the HK government of course).  Despite the endless exit of artists, ridiculously low ratings, and criticism galore, TVB management continue to walk around arrogantly claiming that nothing is wrong and that TVB ‘is, was, and always will be’ the number one television station in HK.  I don’t think it’s lost on anyone that TVB has become even more complacent the last 2 years (ever since the government denied HKTV a license) and their programs as well as overall operations have hit the lowest point possible.  The current management is absolute crap and the decisions they make are ridiculously stupid – yet no one calls them out on anything and as a result, they continue to feed HK audiences garbage month after month (sad thing is, most of those audiences have no problem with TVB feeding them garbage and ‘happily’ devour it as though it’s the best-tasting stuff in the world….go figure!). 

Of course, those of us who’ve been following what’s been going on in recent years know that TVB announced last year that they will be focusing more on the Mainland (China) market going forward (despite the denials by management, it’s obvious this has something to do with the new Mainland investor that TVB is collaborating with).  In addition to airing more Mainland dramas in their ‘golden’ timeslot, TVB’s CEO Mark Lee (anyone who follows my comments/blog know how much I hate that guy) recently revealed plans to build an additional studio in Guangdong, China (like that studio they built in Shanghai or wherever TVBC operations is wasn’t enough) so that they can use that location to film the HK/Mainland collaboration series that they have plans for.  Meanwhile, TVB’s internal operations continue to be a mess, the management team continues to be embroiled in political power struggles,  production quality is going down the toilet, people are leaving left and right, etc. etc. etc. – but of course, no one at TVB cares because, well, honestly, HK as a whole is going down in flames anyway so why should they invest more time and money to improve things there when they can just cater to Mainland and laugh all the way to the bank?  

As if it’s not enough that HK’s 2 main free-to-air TV stations are going through issues galore, the radio stations in HK are not faring any better.  There has been an unprecedented amount of ‘shakeup’ in the management ranks at all 3 of HK’s radio stations in recent months.  

At Commercial Radio (CRHK), their long-time chairman/CEO Winnie Yu announced 2 weeks ago that she will be ‘stepping down’ from her position and leaving CRHK (Winnie has been at CRHK for more than 30 years and is pretty much responsible for making that station the success that it has been, plus she’s a well-respected figure in the HK entertainment industry).  There have not been further announcements on who will take over for Winnie or what type of restructuring will take place at the station, but given her influence and the tremendous impact she had, it’s hard for people not to be concerned – especially given the fact that in the past 2 years or so when she has been ‘less involved’ in CRHK’s operations (probably started ‘stepping back’ in preparation for this moment), issues already started to crop up that have put CRHK in the spotlight, and not in a good way either.  I will definitely be staying tuned in to the last developments with the management ‘changing of the guard’ at CRHK, as I’m curious to see who (if anyone) will take over.  One thing’s for sure though – I hope Stephen Chan won’t be the ‘chosen’ one.  Of course, I don’t ‘hate’ him the way I do Mark Lee (and other current TVB management), but I definitely have reservations about his ability to ‘lead’ CRHK.

Meanwhile, at rival radio station Metro, long-time exec Daniel Chu (he oversees the entertainment division of the station) also announced his retirement earlier in the month and as of last week, he officially left the station (rumor has it that he was actually ‘forced’ to retire, though he refuses to talk about it).  There’s more though – Metro is also going through a massive ‘layoff movement’ whereby majority of the employees who worked in the entertainment department are either being laid off (aka fired), transferred to other departments, or their work hours are being reduced (i.e. change from full-time to part-time).  Several of the DJs / radio hosts who were close to Daniel Chu were ‘fired’ on the spot – veteran music personality Chan Siu Bo is one of those hosts who was instantly ‘fired’ and his radio program stopped (of course he is livid, especially given the way the whole situation went down according to him).  The latest issue of Mingpao Magazine (published last week) actually details the shakeup at the radio stations and according to that article, the reason for the changes at Metro goes back to finances.   Apparently, the revenue numbers were posted for last year and Metro did not do too well overall – in reviewing the numbers, management came to the conclusion that the entertainment department was the main culprit, as entertainment-related programs rarely bring in much money…so the decision was made to ‘cut’ the entertainment department.  All entertainment-related programs (i.e. music programs, entertainment news programs, etc.) will be significantly reduced and content of current programs will be ‘changed’ to focus more on non-entertainment related stuff (i.e. current events, societal issues, politics, etc.)  How this will impact the entertainment industry remains to be seen, but there are already reports that claim the management team has plans to get rid of Metro’s music charts, which also means the yearly Metro Hit Music Awards may cease to exist in the near future as well (for the record, one of the execs at Metro recently denied this report as being false – but let’s wait and see…).

HK’s government-owned/operated radio station RTHK is also undergoing massive restructuring.  Several veteran DJs who had been hosting programs at RTHK for years were suddenly ‘laid off’ or had their programs cancelled and were transferred to other departments.  When interviewed, those DJs said that they were not given any explanation for the sudden changes – management only told them that they plan on making the radio station more ‘youth-oriented’, so many of the programs that were targeted to an ‘older’ audience will be ‘revamped’ to meet this need.  Coincidentally, most of the programs that underwent changes were ‘politically-themed’ programs that involved discussions about the current state of HK, so of course, with the highly sensitive political atmosphere in HK currently, there is now the ‘controversy’ about these changes possibly being made to suppress free speech.  Also, according to those who were affected, the changes don’t make sense – most of the hosts that were “transferred” and the programs cut were amongst the station’s highest rated and most popular.   One of the radio show hosts whose program got cancelled said in that Mingpao interview that the reasoning they were given (making things more youth-oriented) doesn’t make sense – his program airs early morning hours each day, during which time most young people aren’t even awake yet and even if they are, most of them don’t listen to traditional radio programs covering those types of topics. 

For the record -- both Metro and RTHK management are claiming that the changes are not directed at anyone in particular and that it is ‘normal course of business’ given the state of the economy currently.  They also claim that all companies (not just radio) are being affected due to current societal trends and change is inevitable so people shouldn’t read so much into things.   Hmmm…well, I personally don’t think so but ok, whatever…I mostly listen to CRHK anyway, so not tremendously concerned about what happens with Metro and RTHK (unless the entertainment department at RTHK is affected, in which case I would be concerned, since I do follow a few a programs there).

So you thought that was it, huh?  Nope, unfortunately not!  Two more ‘issues’ that have been happening lately that I would like to point out, since both impact the entertainment industry in some way…

The ‘big news’ in the Media realm of late is the recent sale of HK newspaper South China Morning Post (SCMP) to Mainland tycoon Jack Ma (aka ‘that Alibaba guy’).  As one of the few English-language papers left in HK, of course there are concerns about the future direction of the paper and what will happen when sensitive topics come up concerning China.   In related news, there’s also the imminent transfer of ownership of One Media, which is the parent company of Ming Pao – rumor has it that Jack Ma is also one of the ‘potential buyers’ in discussions to purchase One Media/Ming Pao, but until it happens, we won’t know who the final buyer will be.  Both of these media outlets report heavily on entertainment news (in addition to regular news of course) and even though it’s too early to say how / if the sale of those 2 media outlets will impact things, no doubt it’s still something worth paying attention to.  For me especially, as a long-time avid reader of Ming Pao magazine and also general news from Ming Pao’s regular news site, I’m definitely interested in the developments surrounding One Media’s sale.

And last but not least – the political turmoil going on in HK currently is starting to have a severe impact on the entertainment industry.  Personally, I’ve always hated politics and have always tried as much as I could to stay away from politically-themed issues – well, the past few years, this has become harder and harder to do given how big a role politics plays nowadays in both society as well as my personal life.  From the HK entertainment industry side of things, I really started paying attention to politics a few years ago with the whole free-to-air license fiasco and all the ‘controversy’ surrounding HKTV’s failure to obtain a license.  Since then, I’ve been much more aware of the impact of politics on entertainment and even though I’m still of the sentiment that entertainment and politics should be separate and one shouldn’t affect the other, I’m not blind to the fact that reality dictates otherwise.  The political struggle and Mainland/HK conflict have always been ‘sensitive issues’ in HK, but in recent years, things have truly gotten out of control, especially ever since the whole Occupy Central thing occurred. 

Recently, there has been a particular political activist (most people who’ve been following events in HK probably know who I’m talking about) who has taken her so-called patriotism (I say ‘so-called’ because IMO, she’s simply using patriotism as an excuse to wreak havoc on society) overboard, utilizing social media platforms to “report” artists from the HK entertainment industry whom she feels is “anti-China” or whom she deems as ‘supporting’ Occupy Central in any way, shape, or form.  Basically she sends out mass messages claiming these artists are “disturbing society’s peace” and asks people to “boycott” them. [Sidenote:  For those who haven’t noticed, most of the people she ‘reports’ are actually not Occupy supporters – she basically takes surface information she reads and twists it to suit her whim]. Any reasonable person (like you and me for instance) would see this woman for what she is – a crazy lunatic who spews nonsense and should just be ignored.  The sad part is that there are enough people out there who actually believe the stuff this woman says and take action based on it, which of course is incredibly stupid -- though I guess HK should be ‘grateful’ that the activist person isn’t a celebrity so it’s easier for entertainment industry people and majority of the public to ignore her – unlike what they have in Taiwan where the crazy activist is actually a former (current?) celebrity who has a certain amount of influence with producers and such (and the stupid producers of those Mainland programs and shows actually listen to the guy too and ‘cancel’ the offending celebrities’ appearances – or take other drastic action – as a result).

In any case, with all the struggles that HK celebrities already have to go through given the dismal state of the entertainment industry currently, it’s a shame that they have to deal with these stupid activists too and worry about whether what they say or do will be somehow misconstrued and have their lives/careers turned upside down in the process. Unfortunately, I don’t see this issue improving any time in the near future (in fact, it’s only going to get worse)….such a bad time to be a ‘celebrity’ in HK (and Taiwan too)!

Concluding thoughts….

Despite the length of my post (sorry!), the above is actually only a brief summary of a few main issues going on in HK as of late which I’ve read about lately and feel are interrelated in terms of impact to the HK entertainment industry.  By no means is this post meant to be all-inclusive or comprehensive, plus it’s all based on memory, so there might be some things unintentionally left out here and there. 

As always, I welcome you guys to share your thoughts, whether related to this particular post or not (if you feel like just ranting on something random in the comments section, feel free!).


  1. Thanks for your informative recap on HK's recent situations; I had no idea it was this bad. Indeed, the city is dying. That Taiwan dude did a lot of damages to hapless celebrities'careers, including Wong Hei's. His latest victim is this 16 year-old female pop singer.

    pop star forced to apologize publicly

    1. Ironically, she might well be the catalyst that ignited Tsai's landslide election victory.

    2. Yup.  I didn’t mention too much about it in the above post, but I’ve been reading up on some of the stuff happening in Taiwan too with the political mess and that stupid Huang An making everyone’s lives miserable.  That JYP girl’s situation was ridiculous -- for Huang An to relentlessly go after a 15 year old girl like that and be so hard-set on ruining her life, goes to show how much of a self-serving bastard he truly is.  After that situation occurred, I’ve read reports that have essentially compared Huang An to an ISIS terrorist, which, in my opinion, is a very fitting comparison – sure, he may not be physically killing people like the terrorists are, but everything else he’s doing is pretty much the same.  He even ‘declared’ to the whole world recently that he will be returning to Taiwan during Lunar New Year to spend time with his family and pretty much ‘taunted’ the government as well as the entire Taiwan entertainment industry, ‘daring’ them to face off with him.  He also said that he already has funeral arrangements all taken care of, so sounds like he’s ready to go the ‘terrorist suicide bombing’ route if need be to get his point across.  Not trying to be cruel, but honestly, that dude totally deserves whatever might be coming to him.  On a personal note, I already deleted that Justice Pao song that he sabg (which is what made him famous to begin with) from my music collection and will never listen to it again, as I absolutely REFUSE to support terrorists!

    3. Wong Hei’s situation was ridiculous as well…I mean, come on – all he did was ‘retweet’ on his weibo an article that someone wrote about some gossip book that claims one of the top officials in the CCP is gay, and now he is being classified as “anti-China” and being hounded relentlessly by those dumb activists.  Not only that, the stupid producers of those Mainland reality shows are now boycotting him because of the issue (it baffles me that those producers would listen to the twisted opinions of 1 or 2 crazy activists and take such drastic action – that tells me those producers don’t have their heads screwed on right!).  I think what irked me the most though was that Wong Hei actually APOLOGIZED when he actually didn’t do anything wrong – him of all people, I would expect to stand up for his rights given his personality and how he’s so used to going against convention.  Is the lure of ‘digging gold’ in the Mainland really that attractive to the point that celebrities are willing to give up their values and go against who they are in order to accommodate?  I mean, I can understand those celebrities who choose to take a ‘neutral’ stance and not say anything outright for or against (basically separating politics from their work as much as possible) – I respect that and have no problems with celebrities not wanting to take sides for their careers’ sake (and in some extreme cases, for their own safety as well as that of their families).  But for those celebrities who choose to put themselves out there and it’s obvious what they are doing is not wrong  (such has in Wong Hei’s case) and most importantly, they’re not hurting anyone (unlike those crazy activists such as Huang An), then why take the route of apologizing just to save their rice bowls (unless he was forced to apologize by his management company like that other girl was – then that’s a different story)…

    4. Wong Hei did a really stupid thing reposting that news on his weibo; he should have known that some subjects (esp. jesting on national heroes) are off topic if not taboo online, much less on weibo. Bet he was indeed forced by management to apologize. What happened Anthony Wong - the mainlanders' boycott of his movie in China is a scary example of sheep mentality. With Taiwan DPP's win, Taiwan celebrities also better mind their words and actions to avoid riling up the fanatics or be unfairly reported by one HA.

    5. True, given the politically sensitive atmosphere of the Chinese community and where Wong Hei came from, I do agree that it probably was a bad judgment call on his part to ‘re-post’ that particular article – however I still don’t feel it’s a ‘wrong’ action that warrants an apology.  I’m pretty sure you’re right – that the management company forced him to apologize.  [Sidenote: hey, did you read the latest about that JYP girl’s situation?  I read this morning that the Korean government is livid that she was supposedly ‘forced’ to apologize by her management company and is now threatening to ‘investigate’ her management company for human rights violations – the management company is now claiming that they never ‘forced’ her to apologize and that decision was made by her parents, since the girl is technically underage….looks like this has become a cross-country political disaster now.  Oh and now Huang An is trying to back-pedal, as he was grilled by reporters on what his basis was for ‘reporting’ that girl as ‘supporting Taiwan independence’ – he’s refusing to give a clear answer now, only saying that it was ‘a multitude of things’].

      With that said, it’s sad that the world has come to this – in the grand scheme of things, with more important ‘world issues’ to worry about (such as innocent people getting killed by terrorists) that truly have an impact on people’s lives, it’s disheartening to see stupid activists and celebrities ‘fighting’ over whether something someone said can be construed as ‘supporting’ Taiwan independence (or, in the case of HK, Occupy Central). 

      Anthony Wong also mentioned the sheep mentality thing in one of his recent interviews and in my opinion, his assessment of the situation has made the most sense so far.   The issue isn’t really with China’s government or the CCP, but rather, the ordinary citizens who ‘make assumptions’ and ignorantly jump on the bandwagon.  He said that the entire time he was supposedly boycotted by China, he was able to go in and out of China freely and even filmed there for a few months – if it was truly the government that had a problem with him, they wouldn’t have even let him into the country…or if they let him in, he might have ‘disappeared’ already by now.

      Yea, well, looks like the ‘riling up of fanatics’ thing has already started happening.  Show Luo made a comment along the lines of all of us being Chinese so why is there a need to get caught up in differentiating between the two – he immediately got slammed by fanatics and was harassed to the point that his management company had to come out and clarify ‘what he meant’.  In HK, Nancy Wu inadvertently ‘created’ controversy of sorts when she posted a picture of her results from the marathon on her weibo and some netizen noticed that she had put China for her nationality instead of Hong Kong SAR – spread like wildfire and people started harassing her, so she ended up deleting the post and picture to avoid further ‘controversy’.  Such pettiness!  I wouldn’t be surprised if celebrities start shutting down their social media accounts and stop interacting with fans anymore, just to avoid unnecessary trouble – sooner or later, we’re just going to have “robot” artists who are only going to do their work and say as little as possible.   One thing’s for sure – it’s a bad time to be a celebrity!

    6. I just got finished reading and listening to cnn news report on this young JYP pop star, wow, that fiasco got international media attention now. Huang An has better watched his back when in Taiwan - lots of irate fellow celebrities and their fans to contend with.

      Oh, didn't know about Nancy Wu's incident. Indeed it is a bad time to be a celebrity - what with the internet and political power play and the mob mentality.

    7. @tamaya:  I’m not sure if people are ignorant or just hell-bent on stirring the pot, but some idiot fan of Nicholas Tse (I’m actually wondering if that person is truly even a fan) uploaded an excerpt from an old interview he did like 3 years ago where he was asked what he thought about HK/Mainland collaboration in films – part of his answer was that he felt there shouldn’t be a distinction between HK and China, as, at the end of the day, we’re all Chinese.  The person only uploaded that part of his answer (in the form of a captioned picture) and it immediately instigated a verbal war and debate online (complete with all sorts of insults hurled at the artist as well as his family and his fans).  So stupid!  Given what just happened with JYP, Show Luo, the Taiwan elections, etc., that fan must be sick or something to drag their idol into the mix like that and pretty much invite criticism.  I’m not a fan of Nicholas Tse, neither can I stand his dysfunctional family, but honestly, what is the point of dragging innocent artists into this mess?  So does this mean that all artists need to go back through all their interviews now to see if they ever said anything about HK vs Mainland (or, in the case of Taiwan, the independence movement) and try to do damage control before they get “exposed”??  When is this ridiculous crap going to stop?

      Yea, Huang An better watch his butt when he returns to Taiwan, as there’s no doubt that there are people over there who want his head, especially now that the issue has drawn international attention and has caused tension between Korea and China.  And such a coward Huang An is for trying to backpedal now after causing such a ruckus, since he was exposed as having done the exact same thing the JYP girl did (waving a Taiwanese flag during a variety show appearance) many years ago.


      I was listening to Albert Cheng’s radio show this morning and even though I don’t necessarily agree with a lot of what he says, I do get a kick out of the sarcastic tone he uses when talking about all the issues and the political mess in HK, China, and Taiwan.  He was talking about the recent missing bookseller case (which definitely didn’t help the Mainland government gain any brownie points) and said that, combined with the JYP issue, Wong Hei’s issue, Show Luo, and all the other recent issues, no doubt that Hong Kongers will be digging back up those BNOs that they buried back when HK was returned to China and think of a way to get the hell out the city – even if Great Britain won’t take them, living in Taiwan is a better option now given the newly elected President’s pro-independence stance.  Personally, I neither agree nor disagree with his comments, but I do find it sad that Hong Kongers once again feel the need to flee their own city due to political issues.  I was already following the entertainment industry back in 1989 when the Tiananmen Square incident occurred and I vividly remember how, especially in the years following that incident, there was such a huge immigration rush in HK, with everyone fearing that the same thing would happen to them once HK returns to China in 1997, so people were trying to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible.  I remember back then, there was criticism that people were being overly worried and some were even ‘blasted’ for being ‘naïve’ and ‘ignorant’ about China…there were also people who claimed that things would get better and there is no need to leave.  Um well – it’s 27 years later and unfortunately things haven’t gotten any better…in fact, they have gotten way worse!   And instead of ‘fleeing from the government’, they’re fleeing from the mob of activists (who are essentially 21st century ‘Red Guards’) who feel that they have the right to destroy other people’s lives in order to push their own selfish political stances. Insane, but yet sad at the same time….