For the first time in 50 years, the Academy Awards ceremony will not be aired in Hong Kong. TVB, the city’s largest free-to-air broadcaster which has carried the Oscars telecast since 1969, told Hong Kong media outlets, “It was purely a commercial decision” to pull the awards show.
The cancellation comes after the film “Do Not Split,” about the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong was nominated for best documentary. The nomination raises suspicion that TVB’s decision was not purely “commercial,” but a response to pressure from the Chinese Communist Party.
TVB is also suspected of censorship because of a recently resurfaced decade-old quote from Chinese filmmaker Chloé Zhao, who is nominated in the best director category for “Nomadland.” Zhao allegedly described China as “a place where there are lies everywhere,” which has angered Chinese regulators who are threatening to not air the film in China.
Hong Kong filmmaker Derek Tsang’s youth drama “Better Days” was also nominated in the category of best international film – the first time a Hong Kong filmmaker has had a shot at an Academy Award since 1993. At this time, no other Hong Kong broadcaster or pay-TV channel has announced plans to pick up the rights to air the Oscars in TVB’s place.
Mainland Chinese interests own a large stake of TVB. In 2015, China Media Capital, the state-backed equity fund, bought an undisclosed stake in the Hong Kong holding company Young Lion, which is TVB’s largest shareholder.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, earlier this month, Beijing’s media regulators instructed mainland Chinese press outlets not to broadcast the Oscars ceremony and to play down their reporting of the event.
Ever since the implementation of a new “National Security Law,” imposed last June on Hong Kong by the National People’s Congress (widely known to be a Chinese Communist Party puppet), freedoms Hong Kong once enjoyed have been severely limited. The extension of Chinese Hollywood censorship to Hong Kong is a sad reminder that the once autonomous city’s fight for liberty has been crushed and it is now beholden to the CCP.