Television Broadcasts (TVB)

Hong Kong broadcaster TVB set to lay off 100 workers amid restructure and focus on online content

Most of the jobs to be lost at company’s international arm

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 June, 2018, 8:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 June, 2018, 11:54pm

Hong Kong’s oldest television station was on Thursday starting to lay off about 100 people as a result of changes at its international business arm.

Two sources at Television Broadcasts (TVB) said staff were to be told of the job losses on Thursday and Friday, amid the shake-up which reflected a shift of strategy in a competitive market.

The casualties of the lay-offs centred around TVBI, the station’s international unit set up 51 years ago, which includes pay TV services for North America, Australia and Europe and was restructured recently, a source said.

A TVB spokeswoman admitted there were “staff affected” amid “the company’s digital transformation”, but would not comment on the number.

She said: “The new structure will help reduce overlapping of functions, enhance flexibility in resources deployment and overall efficiency.”

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She added that TVB had in recent years launched a number of new-media businesses such as over-the-top services myTV SUPER and TVB Anywhere, the social media platform Big Big Channel and the e-commerce platform Big Big Shop.

Last year, TVB’s net profit was more than halved to HK$244 million (US$31 million) from HK$500 million a year earlier, even though revenue was 3 per cent higher at HK$4.33 billion. Losses at its overseas pay TV operations worsened by 32 per cent to HK$53 million last year.

Over-the-top content, or OTT, means transmitting audio-visual content via the internet, which has become a new battleground for media firms such as mainland Chinese-owned LeTV, TVB, American success story Netflix, and FOX International Channels. But LeTV slipped into problems with its Hong Kong-based sports streaming unit, liquidated earlier this year.

Focusing on future growth with these newly launched media businesses, TVB decided last year to scrap its pay TV services for the Hong Kong market, which lost it more than HK$2.2 billion over the years.

This left Cable TV and Now TV the only pay TV players. But Now TV is diversifying into over-the-top online content services as the market trend shifts to internet-based delivery.

Young Lion Holdings, controlled by the empire of mainland media magnate Li Ruigang, is TVB’s largest single shareholder.

TVB shares closed Thursday 0.41 per cent, or 10 cents, down at HK$24.35.