After HKTV decision, anger grows among viewers over poor TVB fare
Tens of thousands of protesters joined in a week-long rally in October after the government granted two free-to-air TV licenses, overlooking a third bidder. The decision, some protesters said, represented a form of broadcast hegemony.
Online, disgruntled viewers started a Facebook campaign urging the public to boycott TVB's 46th anniversary live gala show, hoping to further dent the station's ratings. Outside TVB's headquarters, hundreds of protesters tossed Chinese "hell money" at the gate, as they marked "the death of television".
It was a difficult moment for freelance writer Kenny Leung, a lifelong TV fan. "The general quality of TVB dramas has been declining since 2000, but it was in the last two years that I started to find the dramas have turned into eyesores," he says. "Why are the plots so irrational and predictable? Why are the scriptwriters so lazy?"
Leung can easily recite the formula for TVB dramas. "Whenever the protagonist's parents are not initially introduced in the drama, there will be a plot featuring him or her searching for the father or mother," he says. "It's amazingly easy for people to suffer from amnesia!"
What depresses him the most, he says, is not the subpar programming, but the station's reluctance to improve. "Without any intention of changing, the current situation with TVB could last forever," he says.
Sarah Ho, a young solicitor, was also among the crowd outside government headquarters chanting her support for HKTV.
She is disappointed by the government's move, but says she is angrier about TVB's attitude concerning the licensing saga.
"Why would a television giant not listen to all this criticism of its half-hearted production?" she asked. "How could TVB neglect the public, as if their voices mean nothing?"
TVB's latest legal drama Will Power - which features Ho's profession - also gets on her nerves. "They cannot even get the basic information right and have set very bad examples for the public," she says. "Not to mention the repeated rape scenes, which are played out as the climax of every drama."
Ho believes pay channels, including i-Cable and NowTV, could never replace the free-to-air TV stations.
"While I could always turn to pay television and the internet, that is not the case for the unprivileged. TVB is their only choice," Ho says. "TVB, as the broadcasting giant, does have a social responsibility to provide better programmes. It is not a business calculation alone."