17 January 2019
Former TVB general manager Ho Ting-kwan (inset) will lead Forever Top, which is co-founded by David Chiu Tak-cheong. Photos: HKEJ, Apple Daily
Former TVB general manager Ho Ting-kwan (inset) will lead Forever Top, which is co-founded by David Chiu Tak-cheong. Photos: HKEJ, Apple Daily

Why new players want to jump into the media fray

There must a direct correlation between media and politics, but a reverse correlation between media and economics. 

Although many media owners are either losing money or making much less than before, there seems to be a great urge for people to set up their own media platforms.

This explains today’s vibrant media scene, and why some media veterans seem to have decided to postpone their retirement plans.

The latest example is former TVB general manager Ho Ting-kwan. At 71, Ho is expected to lead Forever Top (Asia), which has submitted an application to the Communications Authority for a free television license.

Forever Top is owned by a consortium led by David Chiu Tak-cheong, son of former ATV legendary owner Deacon Chiu, with other shareholders such as Shun Tak Holdings (00242.HK) managing director Pansy Ho Chiu-ling, R&F Properties (02777.HK) chairman Li Sze-lim and Legend Holdings founder Liu Chuanzhi.

Ho served as TVB general manager from 2002 to 2006 after joining the network in 1985.

With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Ho became ATV chief executive in 2007 before the station was sold to Wong Ching. He joined i-Cable as an independent non-executive director in 2008 and stayed there until last year.

Ho is not the only media top gun who is returning to the old battleground.  Former Ming Pao owner Yu Pun-hoi and his work partner John Shum Kin-fun are also set to launch a weekly magazine this year.

The duo have already signed up a dozen reporters and editors from Ming Pao in a bid to revive the halcyon days. Their office will be set up at Taikoo Place in Quarry Bay.

On the other hand, Hong Kong Free Press, which debuts today, has its office in Cyberport, courtesy of D100 owner Albert Cheng King-hon.

It’s the first English-language media outfit to raise money through crowdfunding. It has set a target of HK$500,000 after raising over HK$200,000 from the public.

While all these new stars are lighting up the media firmament, Ricky Wong Wai-kai’s HKTV is flickering in its corner of the universe. 

The online television channel has just issued a profit warning, postponed the construction of its Tseung Kwan O headquarters, and suspended the production of new drama serials amid the uncertainties resulting from its inability to secure a free TV license.

But while most media companies from TVB to Next Media are reporting shrinking profits, there’s a swelling interest to set up media and new media enterprises in Hong Kong.

That’s probably because in the post-Umbrella Movement era, Beijing wants to have a bigger voice in the media sector that appears to be dominated by pro-democracy sentiment.

That is why pro-China entrepreneurs are signing up for the mission to foster stability in the city, and, all told, Beijing has the budget to create a harmonious society.

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EJ Insight writer

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