Flamboyant TVB artist Nat Chan Pak-cheung said he was “99 per cent certain” the television station, which has been dominant in the free-to-air television market for more than four decades, would have to donate HK$3 million to charities as its anniversary gala held on Tuesday night was very likely to hit the benchmark he set.
Speaking at Commercial Radio’s talk show On a Clear Sky, on Wednesday morning, Chan said the ratings for TVB’s anniversary gala held on Tuesday night were set to hit 30 points, a benchmark he set last week in an attempt to counter an anti-TVB “hegemony” campaign by playing the charity card .
Chan’s estimate proved correct. The show reached an average rating of 29 points, an equivalent to 1.856 million viewers, with a 95 per cent free-TV audience share. Ratings peaked at 31 points.
“It is a game,” said Chan referring to his earlier promise to crawl home on his knees if ratings for the gala achieved just three points that had triggered a campaign to boycott the gala. Chan later made the charity pledge.
“I never set a game in which I will lose,” he said in the programme hosted by former TVB general manager Stephen Chan Chi-wan, now the radio station’s chief executive.
The saga between Chan and disgruntled viewers came after the government rejected Hong Kong Television Network’s (HKTV) free licence bid.
Chan said he never opposed granting a licence to HKTV, but questioned why it was that TVB, the largest player, was being targeted by the boycott.
“My motive of the whole 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,” he said.
About 100 protesters gathered outside the TVB studios in Tseung Kwan O as the show began at 8pm on Tuesday. They tossed fake “hell” money at the gates, while two scrolls proclaiming the station’s death hung from a crane.
The protest at TVB headquarters in Tseung Kwan O, initiated online, came alongside a Facebook campaign urging viewers at home to turn off the city’s dominant broadcaster and send ratings for its anniversary spectacular plummeting. That campaign prompted TVB to offer the HK$3 million donation to charity, with more to come if the show achieved more than 30 ratings points.
Campaigners have accused TVB of allowing the quality of its shows to slide as rival ATV struggles. Many were supporters of HKTV, the high-profile company led by telecoms businessman Ricky Wong Wai-kay, whose application for a free-to-air licence was controversially rejected last month.
Despite the protest and boycott, Tuesday night’s anniversary gala show reached an average rating of 29 points, an equivalent to 1.856 million viewers, with a 95 per cent free TV audience share. The show’s rating peaked at 31 points. It was five points down from last year’s 34 points.
TVB earlier pledged to donate the HK$3 million to seven charities if the peak rating reached 30, and an extra HK$100,000 for each extra rating point. TVB said it would donate HK$3.1 million to seven charities, including Caritas, which asked its staff to watch TVB last night in order to secure the donation.