Friday, September 10, 2010

ATV Complains Monopoly Abuse, BA to Conduct Thorough Investigation On TVB


TVB has dominated the television industry for over 40 years, the "monopolist" is challenged again. The Broadcasting Authority (BA) has recently completed the preliminary investigations on TVB's monopoly based on ATV's allegations. Yesterday BA announced their decision to perform a thorough investigation on TVB's dominance abuse and violation of fair competition. The BA investigations leads to another turmoil that TVB has to face. It was understood that ATV's complaint directing concrete allegations on TVB triggered BA's first anti-monopoly investigation. The allegations includes [Chen Sheng] and three other Taiwanese singers suddenly canceling to attend an ATV promotion August 2009 and while attending an ATV promotion for a fundraising plan, Eric Tsang suddenly backs out.

ATV's attack on TVB started June 2009. ATV's CEO (Wu King Ying) at the time criticized a free TV station's monopoly at the BA hearing and then fired again at the LegCo that there is a TV station setting unwritten rules, making it difficult for ATV to find artists and singers willing to collaborate with them. BA's President (Ho Pui Him)accepted ATV's formal complaint and that the matter will be taken seriously.

Then ATV sent a letter to BA complaining that a free television station, name was not given, had 5 violations including an unreasonable monopoly contract stating that some artists could not appear on ATV, "anyone going on an ATV program will be shut out" as a regulation. Some artists from ATV's outsourced TV dramas are contracted with a certain television station that does not allow them to broadcast Cantonese soundtracks and requested the advertisers to not advertise on ATV. ATV was not allowed to obtain the broadcast rights to RTHK's 'Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Awards' and 'Hong Kong Connection'.

It was understood that ATV also submitted concrete 'violations' to the authorities August 2009 - Taiwnese singers Bobby Chen, Phil Chang and Huang Pin Yuan initially agreed to go on ATV's promotion for Three Good Men Sings Good Love Songs Concert, but suddenly used "does not fit schedule" to cancel their attendance. The second violation was Eric Tsang promised to go on ATV's charity show, but then after the cancellation, suddenly "it was not convenient" for Eric to appear on ATV and wanted ATV to change the plans to film him at an outdoor location instead. The other three violations were related to TVB's "one show a year" contract trying to tie the artists up so they can't appear on ATV and therefore weakens ATV's room for competition: "on the surface it seems to be an agreement, but it gives invisible pressure that forces to have no choice."


Ada Choi's series forced to be dubbed.

Also, ATV has many outsourced TV dramas with famous artists, like King of Gambling stars Ada Choi, Chilam Cheung and Chapman To. Because they have contracts with TVB, they cannot appear on ATV's promotional events. Ada is also a TVB contracted artist and her actual voice cannot be broadcast, so ATV has no choice but to dub it, which will affect the TV ratings. Yesterday Chapman responded and praised that Taiwanese artists had a more healthy system, artists can appear on many different television stations, a healthy competition. As a viewer, should support anti-monopoly and have more options.

Yesterday BA announced that Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) is suspected of dominance abuse and this anti-monopoly behavior is violation of the BA Regulations Article XIV. The preliminary investigation has been completed. After the BA looked over the preliminary investigation results and advice from an independent consultant, it has been decided that a full investigation will be done and requires licensees and other stakeholders to provide more information about the complaint, for BA to make a final decision. However, BA said that at this stage, the suspected corporation should not break the accusation that has already been established.

LegCo Information Technology and Broadcasting Panel VP (Lee Wing Tat) expressed that involved artists will be ask to provide more detail information: "We have to see if there really is a TVB 'one show a year' contract. If there really is one, then it is possible that TVB is violating fair competition." Also, an investigation is a good thing because it is important to have options, increase the future free TV stations and have fair competition in order to improve the quality of TV shows.

Source: Oriental Daily / Translation: aZnangel @ asianuniverse

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