When Asia Television Ltd. (ATV) failed to secure a license renewal in April, Chun Kai-wai was contemplating his future as a television talent.
With the station only allowed to operate for the next 12 months, Chun knew his days as an ATV artiste was numbered.
Chun’s mind raced back to Television Broadcasts (TVB), his first choice after graduation from the Academy for the Performing Arts in 1993.
But the experience was too traumatic.
“I was hurt because they said I was too short and I wasn’t the type they were looking for,” he says.
At ATV, Chun hosted a children’s program and dabbled in some acting.
“I hadn’t receive any training as a host but there were many short dramas in the children’s program that allowed me to do some acting.”
That led to appearances in other things — entertainment shows, news, satire and political programs — until his big break came in early 2000 when he finally got into acting.
“It’s rare that you get offered 100 percent of what you really want,” Chun says.
Chun himself is charting his post-ATV career with a start-up internet TV venture, Hongkongakei (A Kei), which he founded with fellow artistes.
ATV artistes are renowned for their loyalty, even after they have left the station.
“ATV has given me so much.”
Which is why Chun was distressed when a writeup by a PR agency about A Kei’s July 10 launch contained satirical references to ATV.
“That wasn’t something I expected, let alone intended,” he says.
In fact, A Kei has a strong ATV flavor. “We now have a dozen people who are all ex-ATV staffers.”
Being driven by performers, the company has the potential to unleash creativity.
Chun oversees conventional entertainment-related programs in the mold of traditional TV productions.
Other programs are more off-the-grid, which means they can be trailblazers of certain concepts or styles, he says.
“I am proud to say no programs are comparable to ours, not even Action News [Apple Daily]. We create them as seriously as we made television programs.”
A Kei airs some food programs and exclusive interviews, although not always appreciated by viewers.
Many netizens say the programs are “too ATV”, which Chun says is inevitable given the performers’ background.
In terms of daily operating cost, Chun says A Kei is a bicycle compared with ATV which an executive compared to throwing a Mercedes-Benz into the sea to keep it afloat.
ATV is reportedly considering turning itself into a production house or an internet station.
Will A Kei see it as a rival?
Chun says there’s room for everyone in the internet space. Cooperation is also possible.
If that happens, it could be a homecoming for Chun and his friends — in a manner of speaking.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 27.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
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