Just weeks ago, rumors were circulating about Stephen Chan's future, reportedly including talk that he had resigned as general manager after falling out of favor with top TVB management.
Late last month, there was speculation TVB deputy chairman Mona Fong Yat-wah had dropped him from her close circle after he failed to accompany her to a variety show. However, Chan denied suggestions he had already resigned.
It was also said TVB had put the blame on Chan after the station was involved in a widely reported copyright row with the Hong Kong Record Industry Alliance. The alliance, including top record labels, had offered TVB a plan under which copyright fees would be pegged to the station's annual advertising revenue, which Chan said was not acceptable. Because of the dispute, popular singers Kay Tse On-kei, Eason Chan Yik-shun and Hins Cheung King- hin missed the annual TVB Jade Solid Gold Top 10 Awards in January.
In a radio program, Chan denied he was responsible for the breakdown in talks, saying it was a collective decision of the management.
Chan was also not popular with some staff after he sacked hundreds of employees last year to "tie in with the new media developments."
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegate and veteran actress Liza Wang Ming-chun said she was shocked at Chan's arrest as he was nice to all TVB people.
A number of TVB staff also said they were astonished.
TVB artist Patrick Tang Kin-wang, said to be one of Chan's favorites, admitted he was concerned as Chan had helped him a lot in his career.
"I did not call him but sent him an SMS," he told reporters. "I am a bit worried because he is like my master. He helped me a lot. When I left TVB, it was he who tracked me down and asked me to rejoin the company."
When asked whether the arrest would affect Chan's position on the Tourism Board, a spokeswoman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said it was not proper for the bureau to comment on an ICAC investigation.