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Hong Kong broadcaster won't air Oscars

Hong Kong broadcaster won't air Oscars
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Television Broadcasts (TVB), Hong Kong’s leading free TV network, will not be airing the Oscars this year, the first time it has not done so in over 50 years.

Voice of America (VOA) reports TVB announced it would not be renewing the rights to the film award ceremony, which is usually aired on Pearl, TVB’s English-language channel. No other networks in Hong Kong have announced plans to acquire the rights to air the ceremony so far.

TVB has aired the ceremony every year since 1969.

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“It was purely a commercial decision that we decided not to pursue the Oscars this year,” a TVB spokesperson told local media.

However, VOA notes that reports came out in early March that Beijing’s media watchdog had instructed Chinese press outlets to suppress coverage of the 93rd Oscars ceremony.

The state-run Global Times provided a different reason for TVB’s decision, VOA reports, citing Chinese film experts.

"The true reason is the Academy’s nomination of Do Not Split, a short documentary that recorded the protests and violence in Hong Kong in 2019, as well as the nominations given to controversial Chinese director Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland," Global Times said.

VOA notes that Li Ruigang, a Chinese media tycoon sometimes referred to as the "Rupert Murdoch of China,” became the majority stakeholder of TVB in 2016 after buying 26 percent of its voting shares.

One film that has been nominated for multiple awards at this year's ceremony has also caused discontent among some in China. "Nomadland," directed by Chloé Zhao, is nominated for six Oscars this year. VOA notes that Zhao is known in China for being the stepdaughter of TV star and household name Song Dandan.

After Zhao became the first Asian woman to win best director at the Golden Globes, her win was praised in Chinese media. However, enthusiasm waned after an interview of Zhao, who is a Chinese citizen, resurfaced in which she called China a place “where there are lies everywhere.” A Chinese release date for "Nomadland" is no longer available and promotional material has vanished from Chinese social media.