ViuTV, the newly launched free-to-air television station of telecommunications group PCCW (00008.HK), has canceled a segment of its popular reality TV show after two of its guests allegedly advocated for Hong Kong independence.
In a statement issued on Wednesday night, ViuTV said while in Japan to tape a segment of the travel show on Monday, former student leaders Wang Dan and Billy Fung King-yan called a press conference where they urged the international community to support Hong Kong independence.
“Any remarks on Hong Kong Independence is not only an insult to the dignity of our nation, but a total false hope, a farce that can never happen,” the statement said.
The station said it felt very disappointed and angry about what the duo did, and decided not to broadcast any footage of the show with Wang and Fung in it.
It also said it reserves the right to seek legal responsibility from anyone who tries to use its programs to promote Hong Kong independence.
But Wang, a leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests, denied ViuTV’s allegation, saying it was the station that invited him and Fung, former president of the University of Hong Kong Students’ Union, to attend the press conference as part of the reality TV program, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Wang, 47, said everything in the program, including the press conference, had been pre-arranged by the staff with him and Fung just following their instructions.
Calling ViuTV “extremely shameless” for making “false accusations”, Wang said the TV station must have been pressured by Beijing to issue such a statement.
Wang’s denial came after he and Fung were invited to guest in the program Travel With Rivals, a reality TV show that features two persons of contrasting beliefs and personalities traveling to an overseas destination.
According to Radio Free Asia, Fung said at the press conference that Hong Kong people are angry at Beijing for its failure to preserve democracy in the city, while Wang suggested the independence issue should be left to the Hong Kong people to decide through a referendum, even though he does not think Hong Kong independence is feasible.
Ivan Choy, a Chinese University of Hong Kong senior lecturer, was quoted by Ming Pao Daily as saying he could not understand why ViuTV reacted in such a way.
He noted that the program has a disclaimer that says comments from its guests do not reflect the views of the station.
The station could have made the move in the wake of the controversy generated by two localist lawmakers during last week’s oath-taking ceremony at the Legislative Council, which offended Chinese people, or because of political pressure, Choy said.
A ViuTV spokesman declined to comment on Wang’s statement.
Wang said he will demand an apology from ViuTV on Thursday.
In June, PCCW issued a statement saying the company and its chairman Richard Li Tzar-kai have never supported and will not support independence for Hong Kong.
It issued the statement after it was reported that MOOV, a music subscription service under PCCW, promised to give “permanent employment” to Hong Kong singer Denise Ho Wan-see at a time when her corporate sponsors were abandoning her for her pro-democracy stance.
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