Ratings gamble 'just a game': TVB presenter Nat Chan Pak-cheung

Nat Chan says he knew the stakes were low in his pledge to crawl home or donate to charity depending on annual gala show's viewership

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 6:42am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 6:42am

Nat Chan Pak-cheung's TVB ratings gamble was just a game, the flamboyant presenter claimed yesterday.

"It is a game," Chan said, referring to his promise to crawl home on his knees if the broadcaster's 46th anniversary gala show on Tuesday night achieved just a three-point rating.

His vow triggered a campaign to boycott the annual show, and Chan later pledged that TVB would donate HK$3 million to charity if its ratings hit 30 points.

Chan won the gamble. The show's ratings peaked at 31 points, with an average rating of 29 points - equivalent to 1.856 million viewers and a 95 per cent free-TV audience share for TVB, the dominant player in the free-to-air television market.

"I never set a game in which I will lose," he said yesterday on Commercial Radio morning talk show On A Clear Day, hosted by the radio station's chief executive and former TVB general manager Stephen Chan Chi-wan.

"My motive for the game is simple. I am an artist and TVB hires me. I am obliged to protect the company even at the expense of sacrificing myself."

The quarrel between Nat Chan and disgruntled viewers came after the government rejected Hong Kong Television Network's (HKTV) bid for a free-to-air television licence.

Chan said he was never opposed to the government granting HKTV a licence, but questioned why TVB - the largest player in the market - was being targeted by the boycott.

"TVB has never asked the government not to grant new television licences," the TV host said. The station did, however, launch a judicial review case against the government's licence decision and aired a talk show arguing against Ricky Wong Wai-kay's HKTV.

"I appreciate Wong's creativity. But he made a wrong step. No restaurant would prepare its dishes before it rents a shop," Chan added, referring to the programmes that HKTV produced before the licensing decision was announced.

As the gala show was in full flow on Tuesday night, about 100 protesters gathered outside the gates of TVB's studios in Tseung Kwan O, tossing fake "hell" notes. Two scrolls proclaiming the death of the television station hung from a crane at the site.

The protest, initiated online, came alongside a Facebook campaign urging viewers at home not to watch the broadcaster's show so as to send ratings for its anniversary spectacular plummeting.

The campaign then prompted TVB's pledge to donate HK$3 million to seven charities if the peak rating reached 30.

Chan said he had not communicated with his bosses before he announced the plan. "If the bosses didn't agree, I would donate the money myself," he said.