‘China’s Murdoch’ joins TVB

TELEVISION Broadcasts (TVB,電視廣播 ) said its controlling shareholder has introduced “China’s Rupert Murdoch” (中國梅鐸) Li Ruigang (黎瑞剛) as its partner, marking a further dose of mainland capital for local media.

The company said in an announcement that the Communications Authority (通訊事務管理局) last week approved the application for changes in the shareholding structure of TVB.

The shareholding change introduces “an additional member controlled by Li” to the investor group Young Lion Holdings, which holds 26 percent of TVB. In addition to Li, Young Lion is held by TVB chairman Charles Chan Kwok-keung (陳國強), Taiwan-based High Tech Compute Corporation (宏達國際電子股份有限公司) co-founder and chairwoman Cher Wang Hsiueh-hong (王雪紅) and Providence Equity Partners (普羅維登斯私募企業集團), founded by Jonathan Milton Nelson.

The split of their stake is unknown. In an email to The Standard last week, Li said, “I was invited by Mr Charles Chan [and] I invested as I am optimistic about TVB’s prospects.” Li is the founding chairman of China Media Capital (華人文化產業投資基金) and chairman of Shanghai Media Group (上海東方傳媒集團有限公司).

TVB sold a majority of its Taiwan business TVBS (無線衛星電視台) to three Taiwanese (台灣) companies in January for about HK$1.15 billion. The three companies were said to be related to Cher Wang. Chan continues to be the chairman and controller of Young Lion.

Chan said Li’s insights and network in broadcasting and media-related industries will enrich TVB’s Chinese-language content, particularly in further developing its film business, as Li has sealed many high-profile deals, including with Hollywood (荷里活).

The stock market is likely to view the move with favour. KGI Asia (凱基證券亞洲) director Ben Kwong Man-bun (鄺民彬) said investors would expect the deal to help TVB expand its reach and increase commercial revenue as the TV market gets tougher.

Meanwhile, Civic Party (公民黨) lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching (毛孟靜) said Beijing (北京) and the SAR government are bent on “dyeing free TV red. They have to keep a firm ideological grip. Hongkongers should keep their eyes wide open”.

IT-sector lawmaker Charles Mok Nai-kwong (莫乃光) worried closer integration with mainland peers would further water down local characteristics in Hong Kong’s TV and music production.

(The Standard, Ling Wang and Adam Xu, 23 April, 2015)