Thousands gather as Admiralty rally airs clips from HKTV shows - for free

Excerpts from a much-awaited drama projected onto giant screen outside government headquarters in defiance of licensing rejection

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 8:58pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 11:42am

Thousands of people left their small screens at home and gathered at the government headquarters in Admiralty last night to watch clips of Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) productions that might not otherwise get the chance to be aired for free.

Thunderous applause greeted footage of crime thriller The Borderline and infotainment show The Challenge at the protest, a continuation of Sunday's rally against a government decision to leave HKTV out of the free-television market while issuing licences to i-Cable's Fantastic Television and PCCW's HK Television Entertainment.

The first episode of Borderline, which went on YouTube in June, had attracted 850,000 views by last night. Borderline actor Liu Kai-chi told the audience that the company had changed the culture for drama actors.

"It has been a long time since I enjoyed acting in a drama. It used to be long hours of working without dignity or creativity," the former TVB actor said. "But now at HKTV, I am given time to rest, to digest and to ponder on my character. I can enjoy acting again."

Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, newly elected member of the Arts Development Council, said the incident had affected at least 60 students from the Academy for Performing Arts, where he was chairman of the alumni. "This is clearly a black-box operation."

Video: HKTV supporters gather at Hong Kong government to protest against failed licence bid for second night

The protest is staged by HKTV staff. HKTV staff union chairman Henry Yeung Chi-ho estimated the crowd last night at 10,000.

The union estimated 80,000 turned up on Sunday. The police put the number at 36,000 - the same as their estimate last year for a rally against the national education curriculum that organisers said drew more than 100,000 people. Police said 2,000 people were at the rally last night.

After Sunday's action, about 100 staff members - both existing employees and some of the 320 who have been laid off - formed a "justice alliance" and camped outside the Tamar offices. They are giving the government seven days to explain its decision.

They also said they had never asked for donations and warned the public to be careful of people claiming to raise funds for them.

Alliance spokeswoman Crystal Lee Ka-sin said they had elected a 15-member committee, with decisions made by consensus reached by staff.

The alliance would work out how to sustain its movement after the Executive Council met today, she said.

The 11/2-hour rally ended at 10pm in an emotional sea of light as participants waved cellphones lit up on torch mode and sang This is My Dream.

HKTV reporter Cecilia Kwok Wing-Sze said thoughts of giving up journalism crossed her mind after she was made redundant.

"But your applause today tells me not to give up," a tearful Kwok said on stage after a screening of her interview with Myanmese Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Lawmaker Charles Mok said he would seek to invoke the legislature's powers to look into the decision. "This is not the end," he said.