China media mogul Li Ruigang becomes vice-chairman of Hong Kong’s TVB
The CMC founder, dubbed China’s Rupert Murdoch, said he’ll help the broadcaster achieve growth
Chinese media magnate Li Ruigang has increased his influence at Hong Kong’s TVB by taking up the post of vice-chairman of the city’s free-to-air television giant.
While insisting he’s not involved in day to day operations, Li, founding chairman of China Media Capital (CMC), said on Monday he would help the local broadcaster to capture growth opportunities in the mainland as well as Cantonese-speaking viewers in overseas markets.
“The Cantonese-speaking audience, with a total population of more than 100 million around the world, is a big society,” he said.
Li, dubbed China’s Rupert Murdoch because of his vast media empire, became an indirect investor in TVB when his company purchased an undisclosed stake in the broadcaster’s largest shareholder, Young Lion Holdings, in April last year.
He was approved to join the board as a non-executive director in August after seeking approval from the Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying.
The former head of Shanghai Media Group now becomes vice-chairman of the board and a non-executive director of the company, effective today.
Chairman Charles Chan Kwok-keung sought to allay concerns that Li’s appointment means TVB, which commenced broadcasting in Hong Kong in 1967, will become a pro-Beijing station.
“We had investors from different nationalities before, how come no one raised questions?” said Chan.
In his first briefing with the Hong Kong media since his TVB investment, Li revealed neither the size of his shareholding nor whether he intends to further increase his stake in the television broadcaster.
“It is not a question on whether we will increase the shareholding, but we are looking at how to improve TVB’s business,” he said.
He also called for a relaxation of advertising regulations, particularly those governing product placement, to allow the medium to compete with a growing range of new viewing platforms.
CMC was founded by Li in 2009 as the mainland’s first media sector-focused fund dedicated to media and entertainment investments both in China and abroad.
It has separate movie-making ventures with IMAX Corp and Warner Brothers Entertainment, and also partnered with Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Dreamworks Animation Skg Inc, which made Kung Fu Panda 3. CMC made international headlines in 2012 when it partnered with US entertainment giant DreamWorks Animation to build a 20 billion yuan theme park in Shanghai.
Li said CMC would “not rule out the possibility of teaming up with TVB to invest in new projects.”
He added: “I have read some negative comments on TVB through the internet. I do not agree with them.”
TVB’s operation profits for the first six months of 2016 fell 30 per cent to HK$326 million, down from HK$464 million during the same period last year, due to declining advertising revenue and increased competition from on-demand online services and digital video platforms.
“Both the share price and business of TVB have the potential to go up,” said Li.
TVB’s network dramas in China, and the subscription-based online over-the-top (OTT) video service, launched by TVB in April, are considered by Li as profit drivers.