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)!
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!).