Chance for HK shows to reclaim limelight

Chance for HK shows to reclaim limelight
Kristal Tin who won two awards at 2013 TVB 46th Anniversary Awards is acting in the drama Return Of The Silver Tongue.

HONG KONG - Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, Ms Connie Mok rendezvoused nightly with Hong Kong actors such as Alex Man, Carol Cheng and Bobby Au Yeung.

Without fail, she and her family would sit in front of the TV set after dinner, catching dramas like The Feud Of Two Brothers or The File Of Justice.

"It was a necessity," the human resources executive, 33, recalled of their daily routine, laughing and crying with the TV characters.

Not any more. Ms Mok has long dumped Hong Kong actors for more exotic eye candy; she now watches Korean TV shows on an iPad mini.

"Look at these good-looking actors and beautiful settings," she said, of her current obsession with The Inheritors starring Lee Min Ho and Park Shin Hye.

"It's much better than our own shows." Ms Mok's betrayal of home-grown TV entertainment is hardly unique.

Since its golden age in the 1980s when it held sway here and in the region including Singapore, Hong Kong television has slid in capturing the eyeballs and imagination of viewers.

At its height, in 1984, the stations captured over half - 53 per cent - of all households here that own TV sets during the primetime slot of 7pm to 11pm. This share has dropped to about a quarter by last year, said media expert Anthony Fung at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

But the impending entry of two free-to-air TV stations, injecting new competition for the first time in almost 40 years, is raising the question of what this means for Hong Kong television, and whether it could make a comeback - possibly marking a revival of the city's former cultural power.

"The sooner, the more, the better," said Mr Peter Lam Yuk Wah, an entertainment industry veteran, of having new TV stations.

"Competition is key for upgrading programme quality and for producers to innovate with new genres."

In October, the government announced that it is granting licences to i-Cable and PCCW, which will join long-time incumbents TVB and ATV in providing free-to-air TV.

This shakes up an industry offering stagnant fare as competition from elsewhere exploded.

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