Monday, May 23, 2016

My 'TVB Rant' #28:  Wow, just....WOW:  TVB's bullying taken to new heights.....

TVB did something this past week that I'm so pissed about, I have to write about it to vent my frustration (as if I haven't written about it enough already in various discussion forums and such, lol).

Anyway, the big entertainment news from this weekend was the huge fallout (second one in less than a decade) between record company Universal and TVB over copyright terms for using Universal artists' songs on TVB programs feature on their Internet channels (i.e. myTV, myTV Super, TVB.com).   The way it works is that the record companies give TVB contracted rights to use their artists' music/songs for a period of 3 years and after that, the contract gets renewed if both parties agree on the terms.  Well, TVB's latest contract with Universal expired on 5/1/16 so both parties got together to discuss contract renewal as they've been doing for the past few decades.  TVB sent Herman Ho - the head of their own music label Voice Entertainment - to discuss contract terms with Universal's higher ups (I'll explain in a minute why I have a problem with this arrangement in the first place) and departing from usual terms, this time around, TVB put in a requirement that is at the same time ridiculous and impossible to fulfill.  TVB basically requested that Universal sign over the exclusive rights to use their artists' songs FOREVER (yes, you read it right - the word used was FOREVER!) - which meant that TVB could continue to use Universal copyrighted songs in any program they feature on their Internet portals even after the contract terms are up without having to worry about getting copyright approval (which implies that they don't have to pay Universal royalty fees) and also that Universal can't allow other stations to use those songs.   Universal of course said HELL NO (kudos to them!!!) and decided to not renew their contract with TVB (lol...the Universal execs reacted quite professionally - if it were me, I would've told Herman Ho to go to hell!)  Based on the contract terms, TVB has 3 years from expiration date (so 4/30/2019) to either remove all Universal copyrighted songs from their Internet programs (which of course would be a lot of work) or take down the affected programs from their Internet portals entirely (note that these terms don't apply to programs aired on TVB's regular free-to-air channel).  So basically, TVB was once again trying to be the arrogant bully that they are but this time, it backfired on them because Universal refused to bend to them.

I don't think any of us need to be rocket scientists to understand what type of impact this is going to have on the HK television and music industries.  Herman Ho claims that TVB still 'welcomes' all Universal artists to participate in their programs provided their appearance doesn't violate contract terms (meaning there is no singing / music involved), however knowing TVB's track record, that is pretty much lip service, as we all know that TVB is petty and will now be 'banning' Universal artists just like they did during the royalty dispute 7-8 years ago.  Besides, who the hell gave Herman Ho the right to speak for TVB as a whole when he's only the head of their record label?  Oh, that's right - his wife is Sandy Yu, who, on paper, is only the head of the variety programs department (and is at the same level as Catherine Tsang, who is head of the drama department), but in reality, she is the actual one 'in power' at TVB now.  Go figure!  The fact that TVB sent Herman Ho to negotiate with a fellow record company is conflict of interest first of all (since both are heads of rival record companies) and it also reeks of insincerity on TVB's part -- if TVB CEO Mark Lee felt it was beneath him to negotiate with a mere record company, then at least send one of the GMs who oversee all production to negotiate with Universal...after all, the outcome of the talks will for sure impact all of TVB's programs, not just music-related ones.  With this arrangement, TVB already started off on the wrong foot (though to be honest, I'm not sure whether this was a deliberate move on TVB's part to "pay back" Universal for opposing them so many times over the past few years or the current execs over at TVB are just dumbaxxxs who have no clue what they are doing....I personally think it might be a combination of both).  The reason I threw that 'pay back' thing in there is because Universal's execs said that they've had the same contract with TVB for decades and the discussions have always gone smoothly, but this time around, TVB dropped that "forever" clause on them out of nowhere, which is what caused the discussion to go sour (why the sudden change in terms, TVB???)

The latest 'development' in this absurd saga is that as of yesterday, TVB (um, actually Herman Ho - but I guess he represents all of TVB now) was "crying a river" to reporters, claiming that Universal was the one being "unreasonable" by forcing TVB to take down/remove Universal copyrighted content within 3 years.  How INSANE is that????  TVB is the one who started the dispute by putting forth a RIDICULOUS to the max requirement that NO ONE in their right minds would agree to - now when Universal says NO and proceeds with terminating the contract as per terms, TVB is trying to make themselves look like the victim by shifting the blame on the record company instead?  WTF?  Oh, but it gets better....in the same "crying a river" interview, Herman Ho goes on to contradict himself by saying that the 'impact' of this dispute to TVB won't be much at all, as 'only a handful of programs will be affected' (yeah, right!!!!).  Um, if only 'a handful of programs' is being affected, why the bloody hell is TVB (via Herman Ho) trying to shift the blame to Universal?  Herman Ho is actually outright lying, as it's obvious to anyone with a brain that the impact of this is going to be huge, especially since the copyrighted songs date all the way back to the 80s/90s (which includes all the songs under Polygram, which Universal bought out in the 90s).  Even TVB's former GM Stephen Chan said that he hasn't been paying much attention to the details of the issue, but he knows for a fact that if TVB has to remove/take down all copyrighted programs, that will definitely be a huge problem for them.  With Universal being one of the largest international record companies out there with practically half the HK music industry signed to them (including many of the industry's 'biggest names' such as Alan Tam, Jacky Cheung, Hacken Lee, Sandy Lam, George Lam, Eason Chan, Kelly Chan, etc.), it will obviously be TVB's loss if they don't rectify the situation and proceed to 'ban' Universal (as is widely speculated).  Universal definitely does not need TVB, as they have a plethora of other options and platforms to promote their music (including TVB's rival free-to-air station ViuTV - which they already have collaborations with - as well as the cable networks and of course, internet platforms such as Youtube).

To be honest, I am actually a bit surprised that TVB would make such a bonehead, stupid move at such a sensitive point in time when their reputation is already in the toilet, their production quality is at an all-time low, artists and behind-the-scenes people are jumping ship left and right, and their own in-house produced singers (the Voice Entertainment crowd) are being heavily criticized for lacking actual singing skills.  Also, in this day and age, with all the technology and resulting doors that have opened up with Internet platforms, there's no way that TVB doesn't know that the record companies have tons more options than they've ever had in the past to promote their artists' music.  Does TVB really think they are that 'high and mighty' as to demand that the record companies collaborate ONLY with them and forego all other opportunities to make more money?  What record company would be stupid enough to cut off a large part of their revenue source just so they can cater to TVB's ridiculous whims?  (Ok, ok, I know that there ARE some record companies out there who would be willing to do it because they are so pro-TVB...not that I'm going to name names though, lol).  What planet are these TVB execs living on?  Like I said in another forum - either Herman Ho is deliberately trying to sabotage TVB's relationship with other record companies in order to boost his own record label or TVB has gotten to the "arrogant beyond saving" stage where they are stupidly flexing their power to see who will bend to them without giving a crap about the consequences.

Lastly...I don't think it's lost on anyone reading this that there will be one more 'consequence' that none of us HK television fans want to see happen:  the television screen for the next 3 years (and perhaps beyond that) will essentially be 'dominated' by Voice Entertainment singers (argh, please kill me now...) and the JSG awards ceremonies will go back to being "the EEG + Voice Entertainment Music Awards".  TVB just gave me more reason to stop watching their programs!  I swear, TVB is slowly chipping away at the small circle of 'support' that I still have for them - if it weren't for the few artists and behind-the-scenes people I care about still working for TVB, I would've abandoned this station a long time ago.

Words of wisdom to TVB from a long-time 'follower' (me - though of course, not that TVB gives a damn, lol):  Stop testing our patience with the arrogant attitude and pettiness!  Despite the fact that you have let us down time and time again, many of us still continue to 'support' you to some extent because of sentimentality (and other) reasons.   Stop taking advantage of your audiences' goodwill and stop treating everyone like brainless sheep who must adhere to your every beck and call.  Let ATV be a lesson on how NOT to manage a TV station (though looks like it's too late for this one) because if you fall, it will be 100 times worse and the damage will be far-reaching....

24 comments:

  1. Hello,

    I do want to ask something about TVB and Universal stuff. Why do Universal not participate their artist in the Jade Solid Gold Selections/Awards. I know that they appear on charity programs or on JSG regular episodes, but why is that step maken to not participate on getting awards? Is it because they don't like that only EEG and Voice Entertaiment taken all the awards or something else. I never read a real statement about it.

    Hope you can answer me.

    Leon

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    1. @Leon:  Glad you asked!  Actually, Universal doesn’t attend not because they don’t want to, but there is actually no point due to the way JSG works.  Let me give you a little background…there are 4 major music awards ceremonies in HK that are put on by the 3 major radio stations (RTHK, CRHK,  Metro) and TVB.  Each station has their own criteria as to how songs get selected.  The radio stations will of course have their bias and I don’t always agree with the results, however since they ARE radio stations and part of their “bread and butter” so to speak is to air songs,  it’s not that much of a problem overall.  TVB however is different – they are a TV station, not radio station, and their “bread and butter” are TV programs (i.e. TV series, variety and specialty programs, etc.).  The way TVB determines what songs make it into nomination stage is based on their JSG selections song chart – to get a song on that chart, the artist must have a singer’s contract with TVB…if no contract, then the song is not allowed ‘in the running’ (the artist can still appear on TV programs, it’s just that they are not eligible for any TVB-related awards).  As is typical with TVB, their contracts are very restrictive – with the singer’s contract, one of the ‘unwritten’ rules is that the artist is not allowed to appear on other TV stations and if they are being interviewed with rival TV stations present, the artist must speak in Mandarin rather than Cantonese (TVB’s logic with this is that once you sign their contract, you ‘belong’ to them – that includes the artists’ voices and works…if the artists interview with rival stations in their regular language Cantonese, TVB sees that as conflicting with contract and also ‘promotion’ for rival stations).  Given today’s environment where there are so many platforms that artists can utilize to showcase / promote their music, of course majority of the artists won’t want to be ‘tied down’ to only TVB, so many artists refuse to sign TVB’s contract – of course, this means they are not allowed to participate in JSG either.  There are actually quite a few artists from other record companies that refuse to sign the contract, it’s just that Universal has the most artists who won’t sign, which is why it seems like it’s only an issue with Universal when it’s not. 

      Voice Entertainment is TVB’s own record company so of course all their artists are automatically eligible for JSG.  EEG has always been pro-TVB (their current CEO Ng Yu used to be one of TVB’s top execs) and prior to Voice Entertainment being created, they were considered TVB’s “sister company” due to the 2 companies’ close relationship, so of course EEG will do whatever TVB wants.  This is why in the past, EEG dominated the JSG awards.  After Voice Entertainment was created, TVB of course put their own singers priority (even before EEG’s) so majority of the JSG awards now go to Voice artists first, then to EEG.

      So to answer your question about why those artists don’t attend, it’s actually pretty simple – the artists aren’t even eligible to be nominated for JSG, so if they attended, they would be just sitting there looking pretty…it would obviously be a huge waste of time.  Besides, why should they attend and give TVB free promotion?

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    2. Ah, Thanks for your long answer first!! I really appreciate it.

      I do have a couple of questions:

      First: The thing you said about that TVB-contract, that's already history, isn't it? Few months ago I read that they welcome all artist to join the JSG awards. I never read that the artists who want to participate the awards has to sign something.

      Second: There was a time that TVB putted some Universal songs in their charts. But after October/November of 2015 TVB stopped with putting Universal songs in their charts. So has Universal signed a contract with TVB or not? (Maybe is this an answer of my first question about the contract)

      Third: Where are the artists of Warner? After that Pakho and Shiga not attended the JSG awards 2015 because of their schedule, TVB has not putted their songs on the charts. (Maybe is this also an answer of my first question)

      It's just a shame that these artist never can participate the TVB-Awards/Selections. There shows nowadays are just rubbish. I saw the JSG First Selections 2016 Saturday, but they only promote their own artist :(. It was a Voice First Selections 2016 with only their own artists. You're really missing the artist of those companies. I rather hope they stop doing those awards before it's going more worse. The history of JSG-awards was amazing and their awards ceremony were the biggest of the four, although it was a 'horse-making' show and the record companies of that time (Polygram, Warner and Capital Artist) buyed the awards for their own artist. But still all artist were present. Now it's just a showcast of their own artist.

      Hope you can answer my question.

      Leon

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    3. http://llsmusings.blogspot.com/2015/09/news-article-tvb-attempts-to-save-its.html?m=0

      @Leon: Here’s an article from back in September 2015 that is a good read and highlights some of the recent issues between TVB and the record companies in recent years. I’m assuming you’re probably referring to this article in terms of the part where TVB claims they welcome all artists and don’t require them to sign anything.

      To be honest, after the royalty dispute, TVB did loosen up a little in that they weren’t as adamant in forcing all singers to sign full contracts (though no doubt they still had that restriction for record companies they disliked) – however as that independent record company stated at the end of the article, they didn’t need to sign full contracts, but they still needed to sign a “pink paper” that essentially released copyright of their songs to TVB. So the singers (via their record companies) definitely have to sign something, it’s just a matter of what that ‘something’ is (TVB is obviously not consistent in enforcing the signing part).


      To answer your questions more specifically:

      First, one thing to understand about TVB is that they love to give lip service. They will ALWAYS say things like “we welcome all artists to work with us”, “we don’t have any unwritten rules”, “there is no power struggle within management”, “we care about our audiences”, “we care about production value and make every effort to ensure highest quality in our production values”, “we don’t play politics”, etc etc. In terms of how much of what they say is true – well, I can tell you from years of observing their management’s actions, my opinion is that most of what they say is BS. Back when the royalty dispute occurred, TVB actually did ban Big 4 record companies’ artists (not hard to spot this by just watching their entertainment news programs from during that time period, though there are various other examples too), however in public, when facing reporters, they of course say that they are not banning anyone and welcome all artists to work with them. Also, TVB has publicly stated that they do not ‘force’ artists to speak in Mandarin when interviewing with other TV stations and that there is no such rules in their contracts. While the latter part is true in that the rule is NOT WRITTEN in the actual contract itself, the rule actually does exist in “unwritten” format – meaning that it is either directly stated to certain artists / record companies behind closed doors or it is ‘indirectly implied’ as a rule that needs to be followed (this has been confirmed by former artists and others over the years). If the artists don’t follow the ‘unwritten rules’, TVB won’t do anything ‘blatant’ of course (keeps them from getting into trouble legally), but they will take underhanded actions behind the scenes to ‘punish’ the artist for ‘disobeying’ (i.e. significantly reduce the work opportunities at TVB or even cut them off completely, which is what we call “putting the artist in the freezer”, put their program or MV or whatever in a bad timeslot, give them insignificant roles in series or programs, etc etc).

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    4. Second..in terms of whether Universal signed any contracts with TVB – to be honest, we will probably never know. Universal has had a poor relationship with TVB since the royalty dispute back in 2008/2009 and even though they technically ‘broke the ice’ already a few years back when TVB decided to budge a little bit with the contract thing, they were still not on the best of terms prior to the internet copyright issue thing this past weekend. I’m not surprised that TVB stopped putting Universal songs on their charts, as Universal doesn’t really like TVB either and if any of their artists are signed to TVB, it’s very few. Also keep in mind that Universal has a lot of big name veteran singers who are already big enough stars in their own right that they don’t need a platform like TVB to promote their music, plus many of them don’t even release albums consistently anymore, so of course they are not going to sign a contract tying themselves down to TVB. Notice that most of the Universal artists who do appear on TVB programs occasionally (i.e. Alan Tam, Hacken Lee, etc.) usually participate in the non-music related programs (i.e. interview shows and such) – and most of the time, they do so as a personal favor to certain people at TVB (i.e. Eric Tsang).

      Third…I’m pretty sure Warner is working with TVB still, as they were one of the first out of the big 4 record companies to ‘break the ice’ with TVB. As for why they don’t have many songs on the charts – your guess is as good as mine. I will venture to guess that some of their bigger name artists probably haven’t been too active in the music industry the past few years so possibly that’s why haven’t heard much outside of Pakho and Shiga. To be honest though, I don’t really pay a whole lot of attention to the specifics of other record companies outside of Universal (because that’s the record label that my idol Jacky Cheung is under) and EEG and Voice Entertainment to some extent (due to their connection with TVB)….so I’m probably not the best person to ask about Warner-specific stuff.

      Funny that you mention that JSG Selections show from Saturday – the ratings for that show was like 9 points or something, which is an all-time low for TVB (and the first time ever that JSG Selections got single digit ratings points). I’m actually glad because it shows that audiences don’t give a crap about TVB’s Voice Entertainment singers and are in fact sick and tired of seeing/hearing them. I also read that in that particular Saturday show, they carved out some time specifically for Ronald Law to supposedly ‘apologize’ for his drunk driving thing? Honestly, who the hell cares? And why the hell is TVB using an awards show for their artists to air their personal grievances? So dumb!

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    5. Yea, the ‘horse-making’ thing was a huge issue back in the 90s – and not just with JSG but with all of the music awards shows. Though I have no doubt that some record companies were buying awards for their artists, It was never actually ‘proven’ per se, so nothing was ever done about it (just like with the triads infiltrating the HK movie industry in the 80s and 90s – everyone knew it was happening but no one is going to come right out and ‘say’ so or try to put a stop to it). With that said though, I do remember one of the JSG Awards ceremonies from like 1992 or 1993 where they do ‘address’ the buying awards issue (though in a more indirect way by making the subject the butt of jokes throughout the ceremony).

      Indeed, the JSG awards from the old days were the best. I personally prefer the JSG from the 80s era because even though the awards were technically rigged too (all TVB awards shows are rigged and have been since the beginning of time), it was not as a big a deal due to the abundance of talented singers and great songs back then. When all 10 songs that JSG was rewarding all DESERVED the award (in fact, most of the nominated songs were all deserving too – way too many good songs to choose from back then), no one is really going to care whether the awards are rigged or not. And yes, JSG was a star-studded event back then (moreso in the 80s and early 90s) and to be honest, many of us watched the ceremony mostly to see the artists perform rather than to care about who got what award (unless you were a fan of a particular artists of course).

      I definitely miss the old days of the HK entertainment industry a lot!

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    6. Thanks for your detailed answer!! Again, I really appreciate it!!

      Off-topic: I do have a specific question about Jacky Cheung (That he appeared in a ATV program in 1991). Can I ask the question here or somewhere else?

      Thanks again for taking time answering my question!

      Leon

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    7. @Leon: You're welcome! :-)

      Yes, you can definitely ask the question about Jacky here, since the situation you're probably going to ask about is somewhat relevant to this post anyway...

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    8. Ok then, I'm asking it here.

      Actually I don't know much about this 'incident'. But from what I know is that he appeared on a charity program (I don't know exactly which show this one is, is it that big show with all artist performed outside (when Leon Lai was off tune) or a another show organised after that big show by ATV) of ATV in 1991. And after that, he was being frozen by TVB for a couple of months (??). But he was unfrozen very quickly, because his hitsong Every Day I Love You More.

      My question is: what exactly happened there? Why did Jacky went to an ATV show? Dis he exactly knew that he was going to a rival station? What happened exactly after that show? Why and when was he exactly unfrozen by TVB?

      I hope you can give a detailed answer.

      If he not appeared on that show of ATV that day, he could win the JSG Most Popular Male Artist in the Heavenly Four era (for me the era was 1991-1994). It's just a shame that he didn't get THAT price. I mean, did Andy Lau (and Leon Lai) really deserves that award. It was more the most popular entertainer of the year award, not a male singer.

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    9. One of the big events that occurred in 1991 was the major flood in the Eastern part of China (Hua Dong province).  It was a huge natural disaster (on parallel with some of the subsequent earthquakes that occurred in China).  As is the case whenever natural disasters like that occur, the HK entertainment industry will jump to action in helping to raise money for the cause.  That ATV charity event in 1991 was one of the big shows put on to raise money for Hua Dong flood relief efforts – TVB did a charity show to as did practically every entertainment venue in HK at that time.  Jacky was invited to appear on that show (he wasn’t the only one, as tons of non-ATV artists were invited too) and of course, he accepted since it was a charity show.  TVB was being petty as usual and even though they didn’t really ‘freeze’ him per se (they didn’t really have the right to freeze him, since he’s not a TVB managed artist – he only had a singer’s contract with TVB at the time – his management company on the music side was Polygram and on the movie side was Willie Chan), they made their ‘disapproval’ known by deliberately not giving him the JSG Popular Male Singer award for years, even though he was technically most deserving of it (and no, I’m not just saying this because I’m a fan of his – even Andy and Leon themselves had said so back then).  It’s actually not a secret and he himself had even said during an interview back then that he will continue to patiently wait until they (TVB) feel that they are ready to give it to him. 

      To be honest, the JSG Popular Male Singer Award was essentially a popularity award anyway (hence its name) that had nothing to do with singing.  The artist’s singing skills could suck and they could still get that award based purely on popularity.  I personally never cared that Jacky only got that award once.  The award that he always got (probably as a consolation prize for not giving him the Male Singer award) was the ‘Gold Song Gold Award’, which to me, was way more meaningful, as it was essentially the biggest award of the night (which is why it’s always given out last), plus it’s truly a song award rather than an artist award (think Song of the Year award, which is technically recognition for not just the artist but also the entire behind-the-scenes team that worked on the song).  Also, the Best Selling Asian Artist awards that Jacky got in both 1995 and 1996 from the World Music Awards were way more meaningful than any award that any rigged HK awards show could’ve given him because at that time, he was being recognized at the international level (Jacky has the honor of being #2 in terms of number of records sold GLOBALLY – meaning in the entire world, not just Asia…the only person ahead of him at the time was Michael Jackson, who was in the #1 spot…).  Who cares about measly TVB with their closed door games when you have such prestigious international awards under your belt? 

      As far as whether Andy and Leon deserved the JSG Male Singer award – well, I have my personal opinion, but I feel it’s a moot point now because that award is so meaningless.  The rigging aside, when you look at the award in the context of ‘popularity contest’, the word ‘deserving’ automatically goes out the door.  

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    10. Thank you for your time for answering my answer!

      More I can't say...

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  2. Next 3 years? Technically JSG has been the "EEG+TheVoice TVB singer awards" ever since HKTV started production about 4 years ago. Quite frankly only oldies like my dad would even bother with TVB's music award and shows. I saw the news article on Apple Daily and most of the comments pretty called TVB, ATV 2.0 and said they deserved it! No one in their right mind would allow their song copyrights to be owned forever by a company even after contract ends for free! I didn't know Sandy was now the one in charge even though her position isn't. Probably also why TVB artistes as been flocking like birds away with inept management and piss poor production. Speaking of singers and actors it's no coincidence that those they didn't sign are the once actually making a name for themselves through youtube and previously through HKTV!

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    1. @sport: A little bit of bad news...Universal's VP of Operations Duncan Wong said that they found out recently that their predecessors Polygram, Cinepoly, Go East, and EMI did indeed sign an agreement to forever sell the rights to approximately 200 theme songs and sub-theme songs under their labels to TVB for $10HKD (each song)...so Universal has no choice but to respect the contracts that were signed for those songs. However, outside of those 200 songs, Universal refuses to sign further contracts with TVB -- in fact, Duncan said that there is very little chance that they will be collaborating with TVB again in the future, since TVB is making things difficult for them due to such restrictive requirements....

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  3. PS I was teaching my aunt how to use youtube app to watch HKTV shows cause the TVPad thing got shot down by TVB sueing for copyrights infringement. I for one think it's another dumb move, most people who used TVPad were oldies. Doing that force people like my dad to learn how to use iPad and internet and now even he's releazed through more K drama and other HKTV productions that TVB is crap. Nowadays even if he watches TVB he would be looking at his cellphone playing games. It just quickens the grave grave they've already dug.

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    1. @sport:  The sad part is that TVB themselves are still in a state of denial and their management continue to carry on as though nothing is wrong.  Though I guess part of the blame should also go to those die-hard TVB fans who continue to blindly support TVB just because they’ve done it all their lives and refuse to accept anything new.  I still ‘support’ TVB in a way, but at least I call them out on their stupidities and make it very clear that my ‘support’ is contingent on the artists who still work for them….plus, unlike other ‘fans’, I also support other TV stations because of my belief that the stations can co-exist and the fact that competition brings improvement.  Even my mom, who has been ‘supporting’ TVB before they even technically existed (she was a huge Shaw Brothers supporter and so naturally supported TVB as well when Run Run Shaw founded the station), has stopped watching TVB series ‘religiously’ in recent years because she learned how to use the Ipad and now watch stuff from various countries on there instead.  She was one of TVB’s core audiences (housewife who watches every TVB program under the sun regardless of whether it’s good or bad), but even she doesn’t care much for TVB anymore nowadays.

      In terms of Sandy Yu – on paper, she is not ‘in charge’ in that there are people above her who actually call all the shots still, but to me, it doesn’t make a difference because it’s obvious that she is the one ‘in power’ right now with all her artists being heavily promoted by TVB.  And it seems like she’s being allowed to do and say anything she wants because with all the problems that have occurred involving her or her husband, I’ve only seen her bosses come out and clarify only ONCE (and that was only because it involved a possible legal issue).  In the past, no matter how bad TVB got and knowing that all my criticisms of them fell on deaf ears, I always continued to hold out hope that they would turn themselves around someday and show me that I was right in continuing to stick by them….obviously that is no longer the case now, which is why, more and more, I’ve been withdrawing my ‘support’ for them.

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    2. Did you hear the latest lame excuse that TVB used to justify why they can’t make higher quality programs?  I laughed so hard when I heard TVB CEO Mark Lee’s “claim” that I nearly fell out of my chair.  A few days ago, TVB was fined HKD$150,000 for that 1 minute segment in their Anniversary Awards show where they brought out KFC fried chicken and had all their artists passing it around and eating it on air.  The segment was deemed as ‘indirect advertising’, which goes against Broadcasting rules, so the Communications Authority penalized TVB.  Well, now Mark Lee is saying that this is going to prevent TVB from making higher quality programs because the penalty amount eats into TVB’s revenue.  LOL…obviously TVB just doesn’t want to invest money in making better programs and are using anything they can as an excuse to cover their greed and laziness.  Yet another ‘wow, just wow’ moment from TVB!!

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    3. I thought indirect advertising or product placement was allowed now because I always see Samsung products used in TVB dramas nowadays? I know product placement is the main way mainland dramas make money and some drams are profitable before it even airs.

      It doesn't matter if TVB invests money in a series or not. It does not equal quality. For example TVB anniversary series usually invest the most money but the script and acting still generally suck (e.g. the anniversary series years ago with Gigi Lai and Moses and heaps of other people??? I don't remember it was made about the jewelry industry and a rich family and had an all start cast but the script was horrible. They invested like > 10 million HKD in it too). Whereas you have smaller productions with less investment that end up being a hit because of script and effort put into the production.

      What TVB should be investing in is "time" - By that I mean, time in producing good original quality scripts, time in investing in acting training, time in training behind the scene crew. Basically what HKTV was doing. This investment in time and quality is basically why Mainland/Korean/Thai dramas etc. have all been improving so much, because they actually care about productions. In Mainland, the TV stations usually buy dramas from production companies so in order for companies to sell their dramas at a profit to TV stations they spend time and effort developing scripts and casting the right people, otherwise the drama does not get aired.

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    4. @Phixster: According to the Broadcasting Ordinance (the set of rules that govern free-to-air television broadcasting in HK), indirect product placement is not allowed, though TVB is usually able to get around the rule by making the logo of the products less conspicuous and also blending the product in as much as possible (i.e. for the Samsung products, TVB doesn't show the Samsung logo directly, even though it's obvious that's the product being used). In the case of the KFC fried chicken thing during the anniversary awards, that was way too obvious actually, especially with how awkward and conspicuous the entire situation was. I can definitely see why the CA decided to penalize them in this situation and by the looks of TVB's statement released after the CA's announcement, none of the reasons that TVB use to 'counter' the CA actually have anything to do with the fact that they did indeed violate the broadcasting ordinance. They are actually trying to use the CA's known record of being inconsistent with their rulings to 'challenge' this particular ruling as being 'unfair'.

      Yes, product placement and advertising is indeed the main way that most Mainland programs (and those in other countries) make money -- in this sense, the HK government is definitely "behind" the rest of the world in that they still have very restrictive rules on advertising and product placement that does limit their TV stations' profitability. Eric Tsang actually explained this point really clearly when he was asked to comment on the issue, whereas TVB's current management (CEO Mark Lee and his cronies) confused the issue even more by claiming that the CA's decision would affect TVB's ability to produce better quality series (not sure if Mark Lee was just being lazy and didn't want to explain it clearly or maybe he was just reacting in-line with his arrogant nature and not bother explaining it because he feels us ordinary folks won't understand it anyway).

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    5. @Phixster: I partially agree with you in that I also feel that TVB needs to invest 'time' and 'effort' in areas such as script, acting training, casting the right people, etc. However the part I disagree with is that it "doesn't matter whether TVB invests money in a series or not" because at the end of the day, alot of the things that you listed (which I agree that HKTV was doing way better than TVB) require money to do. One example was the real location filming that HKTV did for all their series, which requires money to rent facilities, transport equipment, travel expenses for cast and crew, etc. but there's also the indirect financial impact in the form of 'time equals money'-- filming a shot in a real life location where there's a huge element of unpredictability could take twice the amount of time whereas TVB filming on a set instead their own studio is easier to control. Indeed, back when Mona Fong took over the reins of 'managing' TVB from her husband Run Run Shaw in the early 2000s, one of the first things she cut was on-location filming, since it required too much money and time, plus they also spent so much money building their new TV studio, so of course they had to make the most use of it -- which is why majority of their series during that 10-15 year timespan were filmed inside TVB City, even the shots that were supposedly outdoor shots or ones that would've benefited from filming in the actual location to make it look more realistic.

      Also, while it's true that the amount of money TVB invests in a series or not is no guarantee of its quality or success (which I see as similar to the whole ratings debate in that the highest rated series isn't necessarily the best series from a quality perspective and the lowest rated ones don't necessarily mean the series are bad), the fact that TVB isn't even making the effort to invest money in the right places goes to show how much they don't care about quality in their productions. One example that always irks me -- instead of spending millions of dollars buying broadcasting rights to major sports events (and another exorbitant amount of money on promotional efforts for the event) and then airing that event on their cable channels that majority of HK audiences don't even have access to, why can't TVB spend that money on hiring better scriptwriters, or buy state-of-the-art filming equipment like HKTV did, or pay for outside classes for their artists and/or behind-the-scenes people to take that would help them enhance their skills (which is also what HKTV did), etc. (the list goes on and on). Or if TVB doesn't want to do any of that because it is 'outside the scope' so to speak, then how about the very basic part of paying decent salary and adjusting in line with market rate so that their employees are at least motivated to continue working for them from a financial standpoint (honestly, what reputable company out there doesn't give staff who have worked for them for 20/30/40 years any type of salary adjustment? I mean, unless that employee has been doing a horrible job for 20 years and therefore isn't deserving of an increase, but then in that case, the company should've fired the employee a long time ago).

      Bottom line -- TVB is definitely SCREWED UP in the way the station is currently being managed....

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  4. I was laughing when I saw that too. I can't believe they would use such a lame excuse. If low budget films can churn out quality work, so can tvb if they put their heart into it. It's all about quantity with tvb, not quality.

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    1. TC: Exactly. TVB is obviously grasping at straws to try and "justify" their actions but unfortunately are failing miserably at it. Oh and stupid Mark Lee isn't even qualified to be in his position because the way he acts in public and the things he says are detrimental to TVB more than helpful (he was actually quoted as saying that TVB is against having more free TV players in the market because "competition doesn't spur improvement but rather encourages destruction", which of course indirectly justifies his rationale for why TVB should and will continue to be a monopoly in the HK television industry).

      In comparisons, Eric Tsang was asked to comment on the same topic (CA penalizing TVB for the fried chicken thing) at a recent event he attended -- Eric actually explained things very clearly so it made more sense why this type of ruling would have such a negative impact on TVB. Goes to show just how incompetent Mark Lee and current TVB management are given that they can't even explain issues like this clearly and instead have to rely on others to "translate" for them...pathetic to the max!

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  5. I saw the KFC fine and seriously I bet TVB will get away with it again just cause of their connection with CY Leung and the government. If they can win the judicial review for the singer and actors contract where they can't go on other stations nor speak Cantonese which obviously violates broadcasting rights, they can get away with this smaller fine. There's no more "justice" in HK's law system.

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  6. By the way 881 interviewed Sandy Yu about combining Mr and Miss HK but also about the copyright. Sandy accused Universal of only being bias towards them and only charging them copyright for every use of their songs and not other stations? (How true is that? I think it's BS) Also she said she gave a dumb excuse how TVB spends 1000s to make a show but afterward "can't use it" because of "holes" and duet copyright of guest performers. Sorry lady but those are not "holes" those are called rightful copyright fees when you air someone's song or performance! This woman is just being a TVB mascot cheapskate! It's the same everywhere even with ads, every time you air it the artists and all copyright parties should get paid! I listened to her Phone interview because I downloaded the file for Charles Ying's 881 interview (his was after). Hearing to Sandy Yu saying like it's "not" ok to pay for copyright every time they air a song or performance is just nauseating! They deserve to go bankrupt! Here's a link to it http://www.filedropper.com/charlesjanicejw2016-05-23

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    1. Opps totally wrong clip it was the 881 clip before Catherine Chau's interview (talk about ironic). http://www.filedropper.com/88112015-03-11-catherinechau

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