'Do we have enough talent to go around?'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 December, 2008, 12:00am

The recent chaotic changes of ATV's management and its critical financial situation have prompted an even more serious question - what is the future of the city's television industry?

Media veteran Lau Tin-chi said the original idea of having two licensees running two terrestrial television stations was to create competition so that more quality productions could be created and, as a result, audiences could enjoy better programmes.

However, for a long time, TVB had been running the show, with much higher ratings than ATV, which had changed ownership several times over the course of the past two decades.

Lau, who witnessed the golden era of the TV industry, from the now-defunct Commercial Television in the 1970s to TVB, said ATV's recent chaotic development raised some very important issues concerning the future of the city's television.

'First, can Hong Kong still accommodate two terrestrial TV stations?' Lau said. 'Are there still enough financial resources to support two terrestrial TV stations?

'And what about the talent? Is there enough talent in management for both TV stations? Do we still have enough creative talent to work behind and in front of the camera?'

Lau also questioned whether the current ratings mechanism, which has been adopted for a long time, was accurately reflecting the performance of TVB and ATV.

Another industry veteran, Robert Chua, a pioneer of the city's TV industry who created Enjoy Yourself Tonight for TVB in the late 1960s, said Hong Kong's television sector had been going downhill and terrestrial TV stations had been losing audiences to pay-TV stations.

'There is a lack of creativity and a lack of good programmes,' Chua said. 'Now they are not getting anyone creative on the content side.'

He said talented people experienced with developing television content were needed now. He added that even though the environment had become very tough, it was still possible for two terrestrial TV stations to survive.

Chua said there was enough talent around to support two TV stations, but the problem lay in whether they could be grouped together by station management.