Some interesting news that came out a few days ago: starting in April (on the 17th to be exact), i-Cable’s free-to-air channel Fantastic Television will be airing HKTV’s series. According to the below article, the series that will be aired first is To Be or Not To Be (來生不做香港人), which also happens to be one of my favorite HKTV series (I wrote a review on this series a couple years back – those interested can read it here). When the reporter for media outlet HK01 contacted Fantastic Television, they gave a bit of a vague response and would only confirm that they will indeed be airing To Be or Not To Be starting 4/17 but declined to state whether they will be airing all the rest of HKTV’s series. There are also (so far) few details on how the deal went down – meaning, did Ricky Wong sell the broadcasting rights for the series to Fantastic Television back when he was still in charge of HKTV or were the rights sold to them by his partner after he sold his stake in HKTV to him a few months back? Also, did he sell ALL 16 of their series or only select ones?
My initial reaction when I heard this news – I wasn’t shocked, since I had already been anticipating something like this would happen…from the moment HKTV was denied a free-to-air TV license and their option to operate as a mobile broadcaster was also shot down by the courts, the writing was on the wall that something like this was inevitable. With that said though, my only question is: why Fantastic Television? That is the one station with the least amount of standing in HK audience’s eyes right now – I mean, the station launched last year to little fanfare (to the point that many people had no clue they had launched) and since then, they have been the “quietest” station in that basically no one knows what programs they are filming and when they will air. In fact, I heard that Fantastic Television had aired one of their own locally produced series a few months back yet barely anyone watched it because no one knew it was on. To be honest, I would much rather that HKTV sell their series to ViuTV, as ViuTV at least has already established decent presence as a free-to-air channel and has a steady audience base already (albeit their audience pool is more of a “niche” group, but hey, having a steady audience that watches their programs on a consistent basis is better than having no audiences at all, right?).
Given the circumstances, I am actually very curious how this “deal” came about and the reasons behind it. If I have time, I’ll try to do some “digging” and see what I find. Meanwhile though, fellow HKTV fans, I would like to hear your thoughts – do you think this is a good move on the part of HKTV, or a bad one? Or neither? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section!
**Translation of article below – please note that I took some liberties when translating this article due to my more in-depth knowledge of the series and HKTV itself, so there were some facts added that weren’t in the original article itself. Therefore, I consider the below to be more of a “paraphrase” of the article rather than a straight translation.**
Article originally published 3/15/2018
Fantastic Television to air HKTV series: To Be or Not To Be will “re-broadcast” in mid-April
HKTV’s former chairman Ricky Wong (王維基) had tried his hand at building up his TV station HKTV (香港電視網絡) from scratch, at one point investing heavily in the production of over a dozen high quality series such as The Election (選戰), Borderline (警界線), The Menu (導火新聞線), etc. Many of the audiences who watched HKTV’s series praised the subject matter for being fresh and also the overall high quality of their productions. Unfortunately, despite audience support, HKTV was unable to obtain a free-to-air television license from the government, which forced them to halt all television production indefinitely and later on switch to becoming an E-commerce business instead. Awhile back ago, HKTV decided to upload all of their series to Youtube so that all HK audiences could get a chance to watch their series, however later on, it was changed so that only overseas audiences could access, resulting in many HK audiences who wanted to watch not getting a chance to do so. [TN: I actually didn’t know about this part, as I tried “re-watching” a few of HKTV’s series back when they first uploaded them to Youtube and didn’t have a problem accessing at all —but then again, I’m an “overseas audience” since I live in the U.S., so maybe that’s why? If anyone who currently lives in HK happened to try accessing HKTV’s series on Youtube and indeed wasn’t able to, I would be curious to know if this part is true or not…].
For those audiences in HK who didn’t get to watch HKTV’s series, here’s your chance to do so, as their series To Be or Not To Be (來生不做香港人) will be broadcast on new free-to-air station Fantastic Television’s channel 77 starting on April 17th.
Actually, To Be or Not To Be is a pretty good series that had received acclaim back when it first aired on HKTV. Led by a strong veteran cast consisting of Maggie Cheung (張可頤), Prudence Liew (劉美君), stage actor Poon Chan Leung (潘燦良) [he is known as ‘Prince of Stageplays’], Savio Tsang (曾偉權), Mimi Kung (龔慈恩), Wilson Tsui (艾威), etc., the series tells the story of two sisters and their differences in upbringing [one in Mainland China and one in HK] that highlights their disparity in culture as well as value systems. Even with the 3 to 4 year gap from the time the series initially aired to its re-broadcast next month, the series does not feel ‘outdated’ at all and in fact the subject matter is very much still relevant today. With this news of Fantastic Television airing HKTV’s series, plus the earlier news that Fantastic Television had hired actor Wong He (王喜) as their Director of Programming, it appears that the station is now finally preparing to take some action on the TV series side of things. [TN: I wrote about the Wong He thing in my Entertainment Newsreel post last week. You can read about it here].
Towards broadcasting HKTV’s series, Fantastic Television responded to HK01’s inquiry as follows: “Fantastic Television will begin airing HKTV’s series around mid-April, with the intention that HK audiences will be able to enjoy their series on a free-to-air TV station. Fantastic Television is committed to searching out and bringing high quality programs to its viewers. As one of HK’s free-to-air television stations, Fantastic Television encourages growth and development of the television industry so that audiences can enjoy diverse and quality programming and truly have a choice in the free entertainment realm.”
In terms of whether the rest of HKTV’s series will be scheduled to air in the near future, Fantastic Television’s rep did not respond directly, only stating that there will be announcements of other productions airing at future dates [TN: They did not specify which productions so they could be referring to either their own productions or HKTV’s productions].