Hong Kong television stations will not air the Oscars this year, following the lead of Beijing after reports that the awards—for which a film about the city’s protests is nominated—have been barred from distribution in mainland China.
TVB, the city’s dominant broadcaster, said the show will not be aired this year as it does not have the broadcasting rights.
“It was purely a commercial decision that we decided not to pursue the Oscars this year,” a spokesperson with TVB’s public relations department told Coconuts in an email.
This would be the first time in 52 years that TVB’s English channel, Pearl, does not broadcast the awards ceremony. The station has been airing the annual show since 1969, The Standard reported.
On the Oscar’s website, however, TVB Pearl is still on a list of international channels that will be airing the 93rd instalment of the awards show.
Directed by Norwegian documentarian Anders Hammer, “Do Not Split” is among the five works nominated for best short documentary category.
The 35-minute film chronicles the mass marches against the extradition law in the summer of 2019, the movement’s gradual descent into violence, and the tense climate in the lead up to Beijing’s passing of the national security law.
Another station, Hong Kong Open TV, confirmed with Coconuts that it will not stream the Oscars as it does not have the broadcasting rights. Neither does Cable TV, which Hong Kong Open TV represents.
Coconuts has also reached out to ViuTV and NowTV for comment. According to The Standard, both of them will also not be airing the ceremony.
The Academy Awards will be held on the evening of April 25 in California, or 8 am on April 26 Hong Kong time.
The news comes two weeks after reports that Beijing has banned state television from airing the Oscars ceremony. Other outlets, sources said, are to down play coverage of the show and selectively broadcast parts that are “not sensitive.”
Another reason cited for the Beijing directive is the multiple nominations that Chinese filmmaker Chloe Zhao, who was born in Beijing but moved abroad as a teenager, is up for.
After the 38-year-old director of “Nomadland” received four nominations, past media interviews resurfaced of Zhao criticising China.
In one, she called China a place “where there are lies everywhere.” In another article, she is quoted saying that “the US is now my country, ultimately.”