TVB director forced to quit after sitcom shows ‘5 demands’ protest slogan

Published (HKT): 2020.09.17 05:30

A director for TVB sitcom “Come Home Love: Lo and Behold” was made to resign after viewers spotted a reference to “Five demands, not one less,” a protest slogan central to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

The offending scene was aired during last Wednesday’s episode, which showed a pair of yellow plastic gloves that had all five fingers stretched out on one hand and only one on the other.

The director responsible for shooting the scene, known as Justin, was told to quit and left the free-to-air broadcaster on Tuesday, a source told Apple Daily. He has not received any long-service payment or severance pay.

“Justin worked at TVB for eight years. The company didn’t want to compensate him, so they forced him to resign and threatened to report him to the police under the national security law if he didn’t cooperate,” the source said.

TVB waived Justin’s payment in lieu of notice, but the source said the move was “hypocritical” as the company had forced the resignation in the first place. “A lot of people are dissatisfied with how this was handled.”

The director had been made a scapegoat as he was actually not involved in displaying the gloves, according to a TVB worker present during the shooting. The unintentional culprit was an actor who was merely playing a prank by folding one of the gloves to show only the middle finger, but no one realized at the time that audiences would connect it to the protests, the worker said.

TVB confirmed the news of the resignation, but declined to comment.

On Tuesday, the broadcaster also fired an assistant director who reported to Justin, a move suspected to be related to her pro-democracy political stance. She was not present during the filming of the controversial scene.

Former TVB actor Anthony Wong joked that the sitcom should change its title to “Loving the Country,” saying it would be futile for the broadcaster to try to police all the visual symbols and imagery in its shows.

Another actor, Gregory Wong, also criticized the station for being “petty” and compared the forced resignation of the director to a communist purge.

TVB was using “shameless tactics” against its employees to show its loyalty to the government and to ensure its broadcasting licenses would be renewed, said Mung Siu-tat, chief executive of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.

Employees of the broadcaster had to work in a climate of fear, and pressure from management had made it difficult for unions to protect workers, Mung said. He encouraged staffers who were coerced by their employers into quitting to consider seeking compensation under the law.

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