Singer Benji Chiang says he fears his singing career is over

Award-winning Benji Chiang says he pinned hopes on career with HKTV, after TVB sacking

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 October, 2013, 4:29am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2018, 5:47pm

Little more than a week ago, Benji Chiang had high hopes for his career as a musician and actor.

Now he's worried he may completely disappear from Hong Kong television.

"I just got KO'd from the industry altogether [by last week's decision by the government not to give Hong Kong Television Network a free-to-air television licence]," the 32-year-old said.

Unlike other former TVB entertainers who have been invited to rejoin the leading free-to-air channel's "big family", Chiang said his chances were slim. "I'm blacklisted," he claimed.

Chiang was sacked in 2011 after seven years as a host of TVB's music programme Global Rhythm and less than a year after he and his sister - as Benji and Lesley - won bronze in the group category of TVB's Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Music Awards for their album, Showtime.

It marked the first time the award had gone to a self-funded album.

Chiang, son of award-winning actor Paul Chun, said he was sacked after being seen at a party hosted by HKTV chief Ricky Wong Wai-kay.

"A production assistant sent me a message saying 'programme direction change, MC change, thank you'."

He then suffered from depression.

Chiang saw hope when HKTV's Wong approached him, offering him acting jobs and a free hand in direction of music programmes, but now he feels he has lost his future. "I have cried three times a day over the past week," he said. "But I won't give up."

Chiang was among tens of thousands of people who took to the streets on Sunday to protest against the government's decision to deny HKTV a licence without an explanation.

He said the decision meant there would be no change to Hong Kong's music scene, which had been strangled by lack of competition in the television industry.

His TVB show, first aired at 11pm, was then put back to 1.30am and eventually ran at 3.30am. TVB's long-time weekly music chart show Jade Solid Gold was turned into a game show. Young people didn't get a chance to learn about local musicians on television, so they turned to pop music from elsewhere, he said.

TVB host Eric Tsang Chi-wai, who stepped down yesterday as chairman of the Performing Artistes Guild after it was criticised for an ambiguous response to the licence row, said the guild had been fighting for the rights of its members and had called upon stations to hire former HKTV staff. He said TVB had extended an invitation, while Cable TV and Now TV had also expressed a willingness to hire.

"From the artists' point of view, the more licences, the better," he said.

The guild came under fire after it did not put its name to a declaration signed by other film industry associations. Tsang said he stepped down as chairman to take responsibility and to protect the guild from negative comments.