Reality bid as Viu takes to air

Local | Flora Chung 6 Apr 2016

The management of Hong Kong's new free television station, which goes on air today, hopes to revive the local TV industry through creative reality shows rather than dramas.

Viu TV is the SAR's first free-to-air TV broadcaster in 37 years, and will take over part of the digital spectrum of Asia Television, which shut down on Friday.

ATV's analog channels were taken over by RTHK.

Speaking to RTHK, Viu TV's general manager Lo Ting-fai said the new station will focus on producing reality shows instead of dramas.

"The most important thing is to attract people who have not watched TV for a long time to switch on their TVs again," he said. "Or to make people who would normally watch TV for an hour to watch it a bit longer."

It would be great for the industry, even if viewers choose to enjoy a TVB drama first before switching over to Viu TV to watch Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, Lo added, referring to the station's travelogue series Travel With Rivals, with Tsang and lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung starring in the first episode.

"If we can attract more people to watch TV, it will boost advertising revenue, and we can use the money to enhance our productions," Lo said, stressing the need to produce high-quality shows.

Anthony Fung Ying-him, director of the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, believes there is room for two or three more free-to-air TV stations here, but whether they can survive would depend on how they run their business.

Meanwhile, eight former ATV staff, assisted by Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man- ching, lodged reports yesterday with the public complaints office of the Legislative Council Secretariat about the station's overdue salary payments. They asked the office to help speed up ATV's liquidation process and the distribution of insolvency funds. .

A 50 year-old former employee, surnamed Ng, said none of the government departments offered to help them. "I filed complaints with the Labour Department and MPF Schemes Authority, hoping that they can take legal action against ATV. All they said was that they would follow up on the case," Ng said.

ATV, which closed after 59 years of broadcasting following the loss of its license, still owes more than 400 staffers January and February wages amounting to HK$30 million.

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