Television Broadcasts (TVB)

TVB host Stephen Chan's mall deal was fair, court hears

Station's ex-general manager Stephen Chan must now wait to see if acquittal is reversed

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 3:44am

Former TVB general manager Stephen Chan Chi-wan had a reasonable excuse to get paid for a new year's eve TV special and not telling his employer, a court heard yesterday.

It was the second and last day of a submissions hearing at District Court as Judge Poon Siu-tung reconsidered his decision to acquit Chan and his former assistant Edthancy Tseng Pei-kun on charges of bribery.

The Court of Appeal sent the case back to Poon after deciding he had erred in law in acquitting the pair in 2011. It also directed the district court judge to decide whether the two had a reasonable excuse to defend themselves against the charges.

Yesterday, Chan's lawyer Joseph Tse Wah-yuen SC insisted Chan had no obligation to host the televised show at Kowloon's Olympian City mall for free.

He said the station was aware that Chan was entitled to get paid for his talk show Be My Guest even though he had hosted 159 episodes for free for TVB.

"A reasonable man would think getting paid was a business deal, as Chan attended the show as a celebrity, and he had a contract with Olympian City," he said. He said that TVB was aware that Olympian City paid for the appearances at its shopping mall shows.

Chan was paid for the Olympian City episode through a company run by Tseng.

The payment led to him and Tseng being tried for bribery in 2011. Both Chan and Tseng were in court for the submissions hearing yesterday where they faced the charges again.

Tse said Chan's reasonable excuse for not reporting the payment to his employer was based on the belief TVB would sanction it - a belief based on previous experience.

The court heard that Chan had been given approval for paid jobs outside his regular employment some eight times.

It also heard that Chan's former boss George Chan Ching-cheong never said no to his outside paid jobs, but only reminded him not to spend too much private time on them.

"It's TVB's behaviour which made Chan believe that he didn't need to make an application," Tse told the court.

Eric Kwok Tung-ming SC, for the Independent Commission Against Corruption, reiterated on Wednesday that the prosecution maintained Chan's payment for the show, which was produced and broadcast by TVB, was not allowed although the station knew Chan had received money for the event and had not vetoed it.

He earlier said Chan deliberately concealed that he had accepted money for the show, as he did not informed his secretary of the assignment.

Wong Man-kit SC, representing Tseng, said yesterday that Tseng's case was linked to Chan's. If Chan was acquitted, his client should be acquitted as well, he said.

The judge will hand down his new verdict on March 7.