Sunday, May 6, 2018

CRHK Radio Interview with Ricky Wong -- PART 2 (END)

Here's part 2 of the interview that Ricky Wong did with CRHK back on 3/29.  Before reading this post, please go back and read my post recapping PART 1 first -- you can read it here.

Again, enjoy and feel free to comment below! :-)


CRHK radio program:
On A Clear Day (在晴朗的一天出發)
Hosts:  Stephen Chan (陳志雲), Chan Chong (陳聰), Yeung Lok San (楊樂笙)
Guest:  Ricky Wong (王維)


-          Continuing interview with Ricky Wong…

-          One of the hosts started off by saying that this 8 year process of applying for a free-to-air license has officially come to an end, but is it truly over?  The host asked now that it’s official, looking back, what, in Ricky Wong’s opinion, is the reason why HKTV was not able to get its license?

o   Ricky said that he actually doesn’t know why (the hosts must have been staring at him incredulously because then he said – even with your six pairs of eyes staring me down right now, I still have to say I don’t know).   

o   He said he doesn’t know why, but regardless, to him, this “project” (HKTV as a television station) has already ended.

o   Then the host asked – so if in the future someone asks you this same question, is that how you are going to respond – that you don’t know?  Ricky responded saying he truly doesn’t know so yes, that’s how he would answer.

-          Stephen Chan asks then how would you describe this “finale”?  After all, it did end in such a dramatic way….

o   Ricky said that in life, there are a lot of things that we don’t know the answer to anyway.  You can’t spend your entire life looking for answers to everything.  That’s just the way life works and we have to accept that. 

o   Stephen agreed with him – they both said that instead of trying to find the answer, why not just look to the future?  Life is too short to spend all that time trying to analyze the past.  It’s better to look to the future and spend that time/energy doing present things well.

-          Stephen then said that he truly does feel bad for Ricky because he is one of the few people who actually did persevere to the very end.  He said that a lot of citizens feel this way too.

o   Many citizens sympathize with HKTV because they truly had a heart for doing this and for the longest time, didn’t give up. 

o   For example – even after the free-to-air license was denied, HKTV decided to try mobile license instead, but even that got shot down because of the government’s assertion that the mobile spectrum will reach more than 5000 households, which is equivalent to operating under a free TV license. [TN:  At the time, the government claimed that HKTV was trying to circumvent the system and so took them to court to prevent them from launching using the mobile license.]

o   This shows that Ricky (and HKTV) never gave up and actually did try other paths, but unfortunately, all the doors were shut on them.

o   Stephen said that he agrees with the general sentiment that if HKTV had gotten its free-to-air license back then, the television environment / landscape in HK would’ve definitely been different.

o   Stephen then ended this segment by saying – “It’s fine though, I guess we can just hope that there will be another Ricky Wong in the future…but then again, it’s probably not going to happen….” [TN:  LOL…while I definitely feel that Stephen was sincere in sympathizing with Ricky Wong (especially given his own run-in and subsequent legal battle with TVB, he definitely has a bone to pick with them still…), his tone also sounded a little facetious in that he was indirectly taking jabs at the government for their repressive actions…]

Moving on to the audience call-in segment….[TN: note that the hosts decided to take all the calls and have the audience ask their questions first, then later Ricky Wong would answer/address each question after the person hangs up].

-          First call is from Mr. Tam:  the gist of his call was to give Ricky Wong words of encouragement and support.  Here are the highlights of his call:

o   Mr. Tam said that he was listening to all the stuff Ricky said about why he (HKTV) doesn’t want to continue “waiting” for a license and he agrees with all the points he had made. 

o   He said that everything Ricky had done in terms of career – IDD and broadband (telecommunications), television, and now e-commerce – all have one common characteristic running through them:  in the face of big corporation monopolies, he (Ricky) tried to forge a path that was different from the status quo…on this path, he had some huge successes (telecommunications business) as well as some failures (television), both of which are inevitable.

o   He went on to say that with the license thing, yes, it was technically “one man’s decision” but at the end of the day, it’s a government prerogative and things didn’t work out.  He hopes that Ricky won’t be discouraged by the television thing failing and instead, will find success with the e-commerce venture.

o   Mr. Tam ended his call with some advice:  he said that at the end of the day, consumers are also customers – yes, they will wholeheartedly throw their support behind a project at the moment, but to maintain that support, it’s important to make sure that both the products as well as customer service continue to be up to par.  Also, the government will no doubt play a role, but in any case, he wishes Ricky and HKTV the best and hope they find success with e-commerce.  [TN:  Mr. Tam mentioned the name of someone – I’m assuming a businessman in HK --  in the past who had also tried to do e-commerce in HK but failed – I didn’t catch the name of the person nor do I know any details about this, but I’m curious enough to perhaps do some research on it at some point if I have time.]

o   Stephen asked Mr. Tam if those last words of Mr. Tam’s were meant as encouragement or warning, to which Mr. Tam said (several times) that it was absolutely meant as encouragement.  He said that it is all about having the HK spirit, so it’s absolutely encouragement on his part.

-          Second call was from Mr. Chan, who asked 2 questions:

1 )    Ricky is known for being a shrewd businessman with many innovative, creative ideas, so back when they had heard he was going to apply for a license, many audiences were actually looking forward to it…Ricky was probably looking forward to it as well…but in the end, it didn’t happen.

His question is this:  from the time the government invited Ricky Wong to apply for a license (implying most likely he was going to get the license), but then in the end they denied his application (which can be viewed as the government reneging on their promise), was there any point when Ricky was mad enough at the government to perhaps want to get back at them – not necessarily “revenge” per se but things like revealing any “dirt” on the government he may have on them for instance?  Mr. Chan was basically curious as to what Ricky Wong’s feelings were after the license denial. 

o   Ricky’s response:  He believes that no matter what we do, we should not have the attitude of wanting to seek revenge when things don’t work out in our favor.  He said that revenge was never something that he considered. 

2)      At the time that Ricky and HKTV were applying for a license, he had a lot of staff / people fighting the battle with him and the overall sentiment at the time was a happy one.  Even when the government started giving them a hard time, the staff still stood by Ricky because they saw how hard he was fighting back.  In the end though, with the recent announcement, he has now decided to give up the fight – does he feel that he is letting those staff who stood by him down?  Especially since all the staff who worked for him truly did have heart and the desire to change things for the better.

o   Ricky’s response:  From the day the announcement was made, there has been uneasiness in his heart.  Back during the “battle” for a license, there were many staff who had decided to leave the “safe harbor” they had stayed at for 10, 20, 30 years and go work for him in a new environment.  He knows the courage and trust involved to make such a move, yet in the end he failed them in not being able to get a license…

o   After a bit of a pause, Ricky said that he doesn’t know if apologizing helps or not but personally, he has apologized to many of his staff already multiple times and will continue to do so because that’s all he can do that’s within his control.

-          Third call was from Mr. Kwan, who also wanted to ask Ricky 2 questions:

1)      Currently, filming web series is a very popular venture that many production companies are getting into.  Does Ricky have any intention of filming or perhaps investing in web series for his HKTVmall platform to support the products he is selling?  Something along the lines of those commercials that HKTV had filmed and aired during two of their series [TN: Borderline and The Election] which were actually interactive with the series itself.  Investing in web series is the trend right now and there is definitely money to be made there.

Ricky’s response:

o   Ricky started off by saying that Mr. Kwan’s suggestion is very good.  He emphasized that even though they (HKTV) are giving up on a TV license, that doesn’t mean they are giving up on multi-media production. 

o   He said that with their e-commerce business, they do plan on filming commercials and/or short 8 to 10 minute mini movies to supplement or promote the products they sell, so producing video content will continue to happen.

o   Stephen asked if they were going to do these commercials themselves or outsource to 3rd party.  Ricky replied that it would be both.  He went on to talk about their newest “project” and introduce ‘The Base’ – 4 studios with state-of-the-art filming equipment that they have opened up and are allowing young students to utilize free of charge.  He said that they have different settings (backdrops), all sorts of equipment, professional recording studio, editing studio, etc. – basically they have everything these students will need…they just need to come with a concept or idea that they want to pursue and also be either a college student or have experience in multi-media production – if they meet these 2 requirements, they can approach HKTV to request using their facilities.  Also, they don’t have to be filming anything related to HKTVmall – they can be filming for a competitor (i.e. rival supermarket selling same product / brand)…basically they don’t have to be working for HKTVmall.

o   Stephen asked is the reason why they are not allowed to “rent” the facilities is because of restrictions placed on them by the property?

§  Ricky’s response was yes, but most importantly, there are already studios out there that are even more “professional” and go the “commercialized” route in terms of renting out facilities for business purposes, so they don’t feel like they need to do the same thing as others. 

§  He said that even previously with the TV station, their hope was that they could cultivate and groom more younger people for HK – this has always been their goal / wish.  [TN:  This point was actually made quite clear in the book about HKTV that former staff wrote several years ago (which I bought and read back when it first came out but haven’t had the chance to write up my thoughts on).  I encourage everyone who wants to understand HKTV better to definitely read this book!]

o   Stephen then asked how big the studios were, to which Ricky responded:  There are 4 studios, with the largest one being 4000 sq ft and smallest is 400 sq ft.  Which studio the students are given access to depends on what they want to film – HKTV’s facility currently has backdrops for kitchen, family room, bedroom, office, etc.  They also have editing rooms and recording studios – currently gaming is popular, let’s say they want to do livestreaming of gaming, HKTV has strong computers, strong internet / broadband connection, etc. for them to record gaming videos.   

o   Stephen asked what is the utilization rate of the facilities currently, to which RW replied that every week the facilities are being used.

o   How should those interested reach out to HKTV? 

§  Those interested can go on HKTVmall’s website and contact them. 

§  Ricky also emphasized that they do not really “filter” the requests they get.  Basically, as long as they fit the criteria that were set  out – must be college grad within certain number of years (2 to 8 years but he doesn’t remember for sure) or currently in college OR they have experience in multimedia production of some sort (i.e. Youtuber, social media personality, etc.). 

§  Of course, it makes sense that they are not going to just open it up to anyone – it must be people who are truly interested and not just fooling around.  

o   Ricky had mentioned earlier that they have produced video content related to the products they are selling currently – is there any particular limit in terms of how much content will be produced?

§  Ricky’s response:  They are currently doing this [filming content related to products] already.  Currently, they have 2,700 businesses selling products through their HKTVmall e-commerce site -- many of these businesses have asked them to produce content to help promote their products.  These productions are both in-house as well as ones where they collaborate with outside parties. 

2) Since Stephen is there and helping ATV with hosting programs currently, is there any chance of Stephen or ATV collaborating with Ricky’s e-commerce platform?
o   [TN:  This question was actually never answered, though I guess in a sense, it really wasn’t much of a question in the first place.]

Last segment:  Since they don’t have time to take all listeners’ calls, the hosts decided to ask a few generic questions that many audiences wanted to know about.

-          Ricky had said earlier (in part 1 segment) that “if HKTV had been granted a license back then, the subsequent 4 years would’ve been 4 of the most glorious / brilliant years that the HK television industry has seen in decades.”  This obviously didn’t happen for HKTV, but two new TV stations DID enter the market.  How do you (Ricky) view the TV landscape (industry) currently?

o   Ricky clarified that first of all, he’s not saying that if HKTV had gotten a license back then, they would’ve come out on top.  What he’s saying is that with them being present as a formidable competitor/challenger, it would’ve changed the landscape in terms of the industry seeing greater room for improvement overall, but especially the “big station” (referring to TVB).  Stephen Chan said that he absolutely agrees with this. [TN:  Haha…Stephen definitely should know given his previous position as GM at TVB].

o   He said that TVB already has a set audience pool, established revenue streams and market share, historical foundation, etc. so of course they will naturally be better than us (HKTV) in terms of ratings, production process, etc.  In essence, we (HKTV) became the “catalyst” that pushed TVB into action in the areas where they were most deficient / struggling.

o   As far as Ricky’s thoughts on today’s TV landscape:

§  The 2 new stations coming in are huge corporations in HK currently so from a financial perspective, they should definitely have the means -- however at the end of the day, it’s not really about the money but rather do they have the heart to do it.

§  Ricky feels that doing television is NOT like a business in the traditional sense – rather, it’s actually a form of art.  Using the big station (TVB) as an example --  Sir Run Run Shaw was able to find such success in building his film and television empire because he truly did have the passion (heart) for it.  Run Run Shaw loved watching movies and was very diligent about it – he had his own movie theater at home and watched movies every single day.  Also, even when he was 90 years old, he still went into work every single day without fail.  This shows how much heart he truly had for it – he didn’t treat it as a mere business where he’ll invest $1 and hope to earn $2. 

§  Ricky had this advice for would-be entrepreneurs interested in going into television:  if your mentality is to invest X dollars in the hopes of earning X dollars back, you are destined to fail.   

o   The host then brought up the fact that the 2 new TV stations (ViuTV and Fantastic Television) so far haven’t really made too many of their own in-house produced series.  Could that be one of the problems? 

§  Ricky said that when he first started, he also didn’t have any previous experience making movies or TV series – the question is really whether you have a passion for it or not.  He said that he has always loved watching TV series and watching movies, which is what spurred his interest in creating a TV station. At the end of the day, boils down to whether you are truly interested in it and want to do it.  If you don’t like movies / television or have no interest in it, yet still you go into the film/television business, then you are purely a “financial investor” – someone who is just throwing money into something thinking it will earn money back.  Honestly though, when it comes to money, the bank has a lot of it – in order to manage the business well, it takes more than just money.   He emphasized that regardless of whether it’s television, movies, even radio, there has to be a passion for it because it’s that passion that motivates and drives them.   

§  Using himself as an example --  in doing e-commerce, it is because he has a passion for it and sees it as his mission in life, which drives (motivates) him to wake up at 7am every morning to start his day. 

§  Every occupation has its problems and challenges.  His advice to everyone is not to treat your job like it is merely a job, but rather treat it as an important part of your life.  Ask yourself how you can do the best job possible, put in the best effort possible.  Also ask yourself if it is something you are truly passionate about.

o   Ricky Wong had said during his announcement that currently there are already a lot of options for consumers when it comes to television.  Does he think it satisfies audiences needs currently?  Is there truly an effective amount of competition?  What is his take on this?

§  In terms of competition, he said it’s never about having an “effective” amount of competition.  Competition should always be open and limitless.  The government in the beginning actually had the right idea in that they were encouraging an unlimited number of licenses because they felt that having more people with the heart for doing television was beneficial for free competition – the policy was absolutely clear and correct. 

§  As for the 2 new stations, he said that they are still new and we should give them time to organize and fix whatever problems they may have.  He said that if they are willing to invest so much money / time / resources into TV station, he believes they do have the heart to do it.

The interview ended with the basic message being the importance of effective competition and the need for opportunities to be given in any venture, whether it’s e-commerce business or television station.

1 comment:

  1. I listened to this interview few months ago. Honestly I wanted to hear Ricky talk more about the possibility of web tv series but he just mentioned 8-10 min videos before Stephen Chen stepped in. Honestly it's a shame because HK truly lacks tv stations that can continuously churn out tv series and nurture both behind the scenes and on screen newcomers! I truly hope HKTV will consider web series or the Netflix route someday.