THE DARK SIDE OF HONG KONG NIGHT LIFE 1

While some are threatening to give Hong Kong a third television station- oh, please, God, no- isn’t there one of those government “watchdogs” that can first put the one-and-a-bit existing disgraces to broadcasting into some semblance of order?

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While ATV still refuses to admit that it’s sunk despite swimming with the fishes, and struggling with what must surely be a skeleton- and financially bereft- crew, HKTVB continues as it has for decades- an arrogant organisation that knowing its rival station offers no competition, carries on with its archaic variety shows, so-called costume dramas, and various awards shows where all the winners have been pre-determined and strut around like flamboyant peacock engaged in some surreal mating game. And those are just the male Canto-pop “idols”. Fiftysomething “idols”. It’s sad, so bloody sad.

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While this turgid programming is churned out, TVB and whatever is left of ATV, don’t, as usual, give a flying fork to their English Channels.

For decades, the English channels have been a necessary evil- and treated with utter contempt. Tune in and watch action scenes and important dialogue abruptly interrupted for commercial breaks.

The night watchman seems to double as editor at both channels, and whose job appears to be to wake up when the alarm goes off and, no matter what’s happening onscreen- a speech ‘live’ from the White House, Rambo about to be killed, the announcement of tanks rolling into Hong Kong- if it’s time for one of those commercial breaks that MUST happen every 24 minutes, this takes precedent over everything else.

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While “back in the day”, viewers were subjected to the insipid insincerity of a Teresa Norton voice-over- at least these sounded professional- for any product that could afford her outta whack fees, these days, ATV World uses a shaky sounding female- Mrs Marples?- who, no matter how hard she might try- and the old dear really doesn’t try very hard- sounds exactly the same whether promoting the weather report, a documentary on the mating habits of fleas or a horror movie. On TVB-Pearl, a male equivalent drones on in the same monotone basso voice. Listening to both is the audio equivalent of Prozak.

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Why bother even trying to improve things ‘cos who watches the English channels, anyway? That’s the corporate thinking. The English channels are there like a bump in a log as it’s part of the Licensing Agreement and with no thought put into improving the product. Everything is done on a shoestring budget- and it shows.

'...and 56% of our viewers have no attention span at all.'

The big money is with the Chinese channels, and it’s this big money that has seen a former General Manager of HKTVB and his assistant and others in their motley crew hauled up by the ICAC on corruption charges.

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Though acquitted, the rumours persist of greased palms, rigged awards shows, the old casting couch to Canto stardom, and various odd deals made with local music companies and artist management.

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ATV, on the other hand has been plagued from almost day one with a seemingly never-ending lineup of dubious businessmen and companies either running or owning the television station- a station that is today advertising that it’s entering a “new era” despite there being news every day to the contrary.

Yes, their Neros fiddle and dither and diddle while Rome and ATV Home and World burn.

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So, does Hong Kong need a third television station? Does anyone seriously think it will offer an explosion of quality local productions that showcase young creative talent? Or, instead, will it wheel in the likes of Robert Chua and his daft programming ideas plus appearances by old reliables like Joe Junior, “Uncle” Ray, Anders Nelsson, Michael “The Wongster” Wong and the rest of the motley crew from The Ship Of Fools? Guess.

As in politics and big business, Hong Kong’s Old Boys Club of the entertainment world looks after its own.

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Hans Ebert
Chairman and CEO
We-Enhance Inc and Fast Track Global Ltd
www.fasttrack.hk