TVB directors to look into judge's criticisms
Vivienne Chow and Simpson Cheung
TVB's board of directors is set to discuss issues raised in the corruption trial of its general manager, including the judge's concern that artists would 'support the boss' by turning up at events for free, at its next meeting.
Stephen Chan Chi-wan, his former assistant Edthancy Tseng Pei-kun, and TVB marketing chief Wilson Chan Wing-shuen were all found not guilty of corruption charges at the District Court on Friday.
But Acting Chief District Judge Poon Siu-tung criticised TVB's failure to set ground rules for artists, who are usually paid for public appearances, turning up at events in support of managers such as Stephen Chan.
One of the charges Stephen Chan was cleared of was cheating five TVB artists out of appearance fees after they attended Chan's book launch, an event for which he received HK$300,000 in sponsorship.
'Such allegations are beyond the management level,' a TVB insider said. 'This issue is expected to be discussed in ... board meetings.'
The source said the board would probably also discuss the possibility of drafting anti-corruption guidelines.
'But honestly, this kind of support-the-boss act happens in other industries as well,' the insider said. 'If your boss asks you to show support, you just do it. It was just that those were television artists and they command a price for making appearances at events.'
A TVB spokesman said Chan's duties and the station's operations would remain unchanged for the time being.
Chan, whose responsibilities include programming, external affairs, news and current affairs, and production, was suspended during the investigation, but returned to work last November.
During the investigation and trial, Lok Yee-ling, who is responsible for artist management as controller of production resources, reported to group general manager Mark Lee Po-on, rather than his usual manager, Chan.
Chan returned to work yesterday for the first time since his acquittal.
'Today I return to my position with a grateful heart,' he said. 'My primary mission is to devote myself to planning and producing more quality programmes with my colleagues and bringing entertainment and information to Hong Kong through different platforms.'
He asked after the health of reporters who fell or lost possessions in a media scrum outside the court on Friday, but took no further questions.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption, which brought the case, will examine the verdict, while the Department of Justice said it would examine the judgment before considering any appeal.
The ICAC said it was prepared to help organisations develop graft-prevention guidelines for employees, if asked. A spokesman would not comment on whether TVB had made such a request.