Television Broadcasts (TVB)

Hong Kong broadcaster TVB fires 150 staff members citing losses in international business and restructuring

City’s biggest television broadcaster continues lay-offs that began in June, closing print production of weekly magazine among other operational changes

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 October, 2018, 9:53pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 October, 2018, 11:39pm

Hong Kong’s biggest television station fired another 150 people on Friday arising from losses in its international business and operational restructuring.

Television Broadcasts (TVB) ushered in a wave of lay-offs in June when about 100 staff were told they would be made redundant.

A TVB spokesman said in a statement on Friday that the 150 staff members – accounting for 4 per cent of the company’s workforce – were from the magazine TVB Weekly, the production facilities division, the art subdivision, and its non-drama production.

The broadcaster attributed the shake-up to restructuring needs, saying it sought to boost efficiency and rationalise the use of its resources.

“The print edition of TVB Weekly will be replaced by a digital version; one drama studio will be shut down as a result of increasing shootings on location versus in studio; and non-drama production will streamline its operation,” the statement read.

It described the decision to eliminate jobs as “difficult” and asserted it was “obvious” the firm had to respond to a “changing business environment”.

Measures must be taken to reallocate our resources to meet new and developing business requirement
TVB statement

“While we will commit to long-term investments to upgrade our production, measures must be taken to reallocate our resources to meet new and developing business requirements,” it continued.

TVB’s executive director and group chief executive officer, Mark Lee Po-on, said in August that the company would lay off about 200 staff members, or 5 per cent of the 3,900-strong workforce, by the end of this year amid its digital transformation.

The broadcaster in recent years launched a number of new-media businesses, such as over-the-top services myTV SUPER and TVB Anywhere as well as the social media platform Big Big Channel and the e-commerce platform Big Big Shop. Over-the-top content, or OTT, means transmitting audiovisual content via the internet.

Yet it axed the print production of TVB Weekly on Monday, and replaced it with a digital version. The publication debuted in 1997.

Last year, TVB’s net profit fell by more than half to HK$244 million from HK$500 million (US$63.8 million) a year earlier, even though its revenue was 3 per cent higher at HK$4.33 billion. Losses at its overseas pay TV operations plunged by 32 per cent to HK$53 million last year.

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OTT content has become a new battleground for media firms such as mainland Chinese-owned LeTV, which ran into problems with its Hong Kong-based sports streaming unit, liquidated earlier this year.

Focusing on future growth with its newly launched media businesses, TVB decided last year to scrap its pay TV services for the local market, which lost it more than HK$2.2 billion over the years. This left Cable TV and Now TV as the only pay TV players in the city. But Now TV is diversifying into over-the-top online content services as the market 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 on Friday closed down 0.22 per cent, or 5 cents, at HK$22.25.