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The consortium that owns the controlling stake of Hong Kong’s dominant station Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) has been joined by Chinese media tycoon Li Ruigang.
The addition of Li in the consortium marks the first time in the broadcaster’s 47-year history that a Mainland Chinese investor has been brought in. Through his investment in Young Lion Holdings, Li has become a shareholder of TVB indirectly. Young Lion Holdings was previously controlled by TVB chairman Charles Chan, non-executive director Cher Wang and Providence Equity Partners. It holds 26 percent of the voting shares in TVB.
The Communications Authority announced its approval of the application for the changes in the share-holding structure of TVB on Wednesday.
Called the “Rupert Murdoch of China,” Li is the founding chairman of China Media Capital, the state-backed equity fund, and chairman of Chinese media conglomerate Shanghai Media Group. He is known to be involved in at least three business partnerships with Hollywood through CMC and SMG, namely Oriental Dreamworks, a partnership with Disney and a partnership with Warner Bros., RatPac and advertising agency WPP.
Having Li on board, TVB will solidify the station’s “leading position in Chinese-language content globally,” a source familiar with the deal at TVB told The South China Morning Post. “TVB thinks having Li on board will benefit its entry to the vast mainland entertainment market, as well as getting into the international market through his good connections. The station finds the local market too small for its future development.”
But lawmakers fear that bringing in a major Chinese media industry player into Hong Kong’s leading free-to-air broadcaster will affect the ideology of the station. “The Hong Kong and Chinese government are intending to bring communist ideology into the free station that will enter people’s homes,” legislator Claudia Mo told Apple Daily. “Li will control the station. It is a struggle of ideologies. This is a trend that we cannot escape. The Hong Kong people have to open their eyes to this.”
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