TVB scraps annual music awards show
Television station abandons solo show and collaborates with radio stations to produce joint programme as singers reject exclusive contracts
Vivienne Chow and Amy Nip
Television station TVB will do away with its nearly three-decade-old annual music awards show next year and replace it with a similar prize-giving extravaganza jointly organised with three radio stations.
The terrestrial broadcaster says the new annual programme would be an authoritative industry bash in which public voting will decide the awards.
Talks were under way with Commercial Radio, RTHK and Metro Radio, TVB executive director and group general manager Mark Lee Po-on told the South China Morning Post.
The long-running Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Music Awards Presentation had contributed a great deal to the rise of Canto-pop culture, but Lee admitted the time for change had come.
"Four stations organise music awards of their own every year," he said. "So who are the real kings and queens of Canto-pop?"
TVB is seeking to win public support for its opposition to the introduction of more free-to-air television operators.
The licensing issue gained prominence in recent months as City Telecom, which in late 2009 became the first of three free-to-air television licence applicants, was vocal in its criticism of the government's delay. Lee has written to lawmakers and all executive councillors, arguing it was unjustified to issue three new licences before TVB's expired in 2015.
In the Post interview, he did not say whether TVB's decision to axe its star-studded show was to gain public support.
First held in 1984, the TVB awards - the second oldest in the city after RTHK's Top Ten Chinese Songs Music Awards - took Canto-pop into a golden era. Together with other music programmes produced by the station, it made pop-culture icons out of singers Alan Tam Wing-lung as well as the late Anita Mui Yim-fong and Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, who influenced generations of Hongkongers and Chinese speakers around the world.
TVB's dominance continued as many singers signed exclusive contracts that restricted their appearances on other broadcasters. In interviews on other station's programmes, they had to speak in Mandarin instead of Cantonese.
But it became mired in a copyright row with major record labels a few years ago. Many singers rejected the exclusive contracts and the awards show.
Lee admitted singers did not sign exclusive deals with TVB any more, but denied it was the reason for change. "The power [to select winning singers] should not rest with TVB alone … We are not a hegemon," he said.
While the annual music awards show will end, TVB may still keep its regular music programmes.
In August, the station launched online public voting for the Miss Hong Kong beauty pageant. But its computer system crashed, resulting in failure for its first attempt at mass balloting.
Music critic Yuen Chi-chung said that since TVB had lost many singers, it might as well scrap the award show despite its past glory.
"But how will this new awards show be judged? Music is not a beauty pageant. High popularity does not mean the best."