‘Disqualified’ China media tycoon Li Ruigang to join Hong Kong’s TVB as non-executive director

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying gives green light for China Media Capital owner to join local broadcaster

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 7:33am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 11:23am

Despite being a “disqualified person” under the city’s broadcasting laws, Chinese media mogul Li Ruigang has been approved to join the board of free-to-air television giant TVB as a non-executive director.

Li ‘s status was due to his association with advertising agency businesses in China and overseas as well as a non-domestic television programme service licensee.

Under the Broadcasting Ordinance, he could not exercise control of a domestic free TV service without approval of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the Executive Council, which he obtained.

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The approval was questioned by information technology sector lawmaker Charles Mok.

“There is regulation there, why didn’t the chief executive just follow it?” he asked, referring to the Broadcasting Ordinance and the chief executive’s discretionary powers to bypass the regulations over the directorship of television stations.

A spokesman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau justified the decision, saying that Li’s previous positions did not have much influence on the Hong Kong market.

“It is unlikely to bring negative impact in terms of the competition landscape of the television programme service market, editorial uniformity or media concentration should the four persons be allowed to hold dual directorships in TVB and the corporations concerned.”

The bureau said the appointment of Li as a non-executive director to the TVB board would contribute to cross-fertilisation of ideas, knowledge and experience in the broadcasting and film industry, and attract more media-related projects to be carried out in Hong Kong, bringing positive gains to the development of the local broadcasting and creative industries.

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Li is the founding chairman of China Media Capital and former head of Shanghai Media Group. In September, he announced he would teaming up with Hollywood giant Warner Bros Entertainment to form an international production and distribution joint venture called the Flagship Entertainment Group based in Hong Kong.

Li became an indirect investor in TVB when his company purchased a stake in the broadcaster’s largest shareholder, Young Lion Holdings, in April last year.

Charles Chan Kwok-keung, chairman and non-executive director; Mark Lee Po-on, executive director and group CEO; and Thomas Hui To, non-executive director, will also hold their positions as directors of TVB, according to Tuesday’s announcement.

The company said it welcomed the approval for Li to serve as a non-executive director, although he will not participate in the station’s daily operation. He will however advise on general corporate planning as well as business strategies and contribute to the station’s long-term growth.