Cable Broadband (1097)'s cable TV premium channels officially returned their local pay TV licenses on Thursday (June 6) and switched to free TV services. In the 1 years since the launch of cable TV, the shift from paid to free reflects the dilemma of Hong Kong's media transformation: under the digital revolution, information and communication technology are changing day by day, how should traditional media deal with themselves? Professor Chung Boo, Department of Interactive Media, School of Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University, pointed out in his acceptance of Hong Kong 30 that the media industry can no longer return to its former glory, and "digital transformation" will inevitably continue to occur; But he also believes that when people are exposed to too much fake news, they may become aware of the importance of professional media, and there will be a "news renaissance".

Cable TV will end its pay TV service on June 6 this year. (Profile picture)

Internal and external media
are facing transformation challenges

Cable TV has set a number of "firsts": in 1993, cable TV was launched, making it the first pay TV channel in Hong Kong; In 1996, it became the first TV station in Hong Kong to broadcast Premier League matches live all season long; In 2002, it obtained the exclusive broadcast rights of the World Cup; In 2003, it launched Asia's first 24-hour channel to report entertainment news. However, with the rapid development of the Internet and the failure of the bid for sports rights, cable TV has been losing money for 2008 consecutive years since 14. Until recent years, the entire TV industry has been affected by streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon, including cable TV, Now TV, and wireless TV, all of which are paid and free-to-air TV stations.

This is not an embarrassment for TV media, nor is it the first time that Hong Kong media have been under pressure from media transformation. At the beginning of the millennium, more than seventy percent of Hong Kong's citizens still used newspapers as an important channel for obtaining news. In 2014, after the occupation, a large number of online media, including Stand News, formerly known as Home News, were established, which quickly seized the market. In 2015, the print media sector ushered in a major blow, with the 56-year-old "Xinbao" suspended, "Chengbao" facing liquidation, and "Next Magazine" announced major layoffs. In 2016, there was great turmoil in electronic media, first "Hong Kong 01" was officially launched, then Asia Television (ATV), which had been established for nearly 60 years, terminated free TV broadcasting, and then the free TV channel ViuTV under PCCW (0008) was launched; In May of the same year, the Legislative Council took the lead in announcing that it would not restrict online media interviews. In 5, under the "turmoil over the amendment of the extradition bill", "self-media" became popular; Since then, some niche media have successively taken their own positions.

In the face of the "information revolution" brought about by the "digital revolution", some voices believe that the HKSAR Government should optimize the policy environment and facilitate media operations in order to promote the sustainable development of the media. However, Zhong Boo, professor and programme director of the Department of Interactive Media at the School of Communication at Hong Kong Baptist University, told Hong Kong 01 that the recommendations are not good in the long run, because "digital transformation" is bound to continue to occur, and the media itself must constantly strengthen its content and brand.

Chung Boo, Professor and Programme Director of the Department of Interactive Media at the School of Communication at Hong Kong Baptist University, believes that digital transformation is bound to continue and that media itself must continue to strengthen its content and brand. (Hong Kong Baptist University website)

The Hong Kong crisis is belated, and
the media are getting worse and worse

"I think Asia is a very benevolent place for journalists, and now it is basically impossible to buy newspapers abroad, and it is often the elderly who still maintain the habit of consuming newspapers, and they are not mainly for watching the news, but for the coupons (coupons, discount coupons) in the newspaper." In recent years, many media outlets have continued to shrink in size, and many media professionals are worried about being eliminated by the times, but Zhong Bu believes that the crisis in Hong Kong has appeared relatively late compared to foreign countries, and although there is much more news content today than in the past, the quality of media news is getting worse and worse.

Zhong Bu worked for CNN for many years, when "smartphones" were not yet available, when he saw someone writing news for mobile phone clients that could only fit a few lines, and thought that there was no future in watching news on a small screen, and he decided to "work for big screen" and broadcast news on the big screen of TV. Today, mobile phones have become an indispensable part of modern people and an important way to get news. Zhong Bu joked that his views were naïve, referring to another once-popular saying that young people don't watch TV or newspapers, and when they grow up to become parents, they will naturally change — and as a result, that day never came, and it became more and more distant.

As Zhong Bu said, the dilemma of media transformation is not unique to Hong Kong, but has occurred in other countries and regions, causing both obsolescence and decline, as well as innovation and breakthroughs. In 2008, Tribune Newspaper Group, the second largest newspaper group in the United States, filed for bankruptcy protection; In 2016, The Independent stopped publishing a print edition. In 2011, The New York Times launched a paywall, and four months later the number of paid subscribers for the digital version exceeded 4,40, higher than the original annual customer target of 30,2020; In 76, The New York Times already surpassed physical newspapers in digital revenue. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, work-from-home models have become prevalent and e-reading habits have gradually developed, and a survey by the Reuters Institute for Journalism at the University of Oxford showed that <>% of media executives have accelerated their digital transformation to adapt to and mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic.

Smartphones have become an important way for people to access information. (Photo by Li Zetong)

New era new news
focuses on demand differences

The digital transformation of media has changed more than just communication technologies or formats. The late Canadian communication scientist Marshall McLuhan's concept of "media as message" means that the form of media itself affects the way people understand information and even revolutionizes people's understanding and perception of the world. One of the characteristics of Internet technology is "decentralization", which is also reflected in the distribution mode of online media. For example, Zhong Bu said that in the past, the newspaper chief had the final say on which report was on the front page and which was on the second page, but the characteristics of online communication have broken the logic of the old agenda setting.

At the same time, readers' media habits are changing. Zhong Bu did a survey and found that many readers only contact the news through social media, and do not actively read news reports from mainstream media, and this phenomenon is not limited to groups with low education levels. He also observed that the popularity of social media and online news has also led readers to think that news should be free: "[People will think,] I can buy a cup of coffee for three or four dollars a day, but if I were to pay ten dollars a month to subscribe to a newspaper, then I would not want to." In this regard, Zhong Bu believes that the media should also make timely changes, not only focusing on writing news content, but not on publishing channels, or even considering the differences in the needs of different users.

The lack of timely flexibility may be the reason why some media have suffered setbacks in the new era. Liang Lijuan, a lecturer at the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, once pointed out on a radio program that cable TV bundles multiple channels for a flat fee, and the profit contribution of users is the same, while Now TV allows subscribers to choose different channel packages according to their preferences and successfully grab the market.

Media forms themselves can affect the way people understand information and even reform people's understanding and perception of the world. (Wordpress:understandingmediarg)

Everybody is the media
Artificial intelligence goes into the war

The information dissemination mode dominated by professional media organizations has become diverse, and the line between "media people" and "non-media people" has become blurred. In the past, people were just bystanders of news events and passively received information released by the media, but now ordinary people can report themselves and lead information dissemination activities through the Internet and mobile devices. Zhong Bu also read a report on social media about a woman who has no home who likes to sleep in the women's bathroom because it is safer. The "media person" who reports the story is the "news source" of the story, and only needs a mobile phone to report.

The crisis of "everyone is a media person" has not yet been resolved, and with the popularity of the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT launched by the US artificial intelligence research laboratory OpenAI, the saying that "artificial intelligence will replace journalists" is very popular. Zhong Bu believes that AI will not replace journalists, but journalists who know how to use AI will eliminate journalists who do not understand AI. The reason why AI will not replace journalists is because ChatGPT has no self-awareness, no human mind, just a "data gift box" that presents data; Secondly, it does not have the ability to comprehend the true meaning of the event or comprehend the deep meaning of the article.

However, the key to eliminating journalists who do not understand AI is the absorption, understanding and processing of information. For example, there is an article that needs to talk about 5 points, and with the efforts of individual journalists, at most 10 points can be thought of and then screened, but ChatGPT can list 20 points in just a few seconds for journalists to choose the best for admission.

What will AI bring to humanity? ChatGPT replied as shown in the figure. (Getty Images)

Carry forward professional values
and wait for the news to revive

"This stage is a bit like the 'Renaissance' in human history, after experiencing the long darkness of the Middle Ages, suddenly feeling that religion needs to be reformed and needs to bring something new. Now we may also have a 'news renaissance'." Zhong Bu has always held the view that after three years of the new crown epidemic, when people are exposed to too much fake news, there will be a "news recovery" - people will re-realize the importance of professional journalists to check information and report news, which will become a prerequisite for people to be willing to pay. He thought that since the media industry could not return to its former glory, it was necessary to at least let the public know the value of professional media, and provide services in its own territory that were in line with the mission of the media.

In addition to media practitioners, journalism and communication schools around the world are also facing a crisis and are actively thinking about countermeasures. The School of Communication of Hong Kong Baptist University added the Department of Interactive Media last year, with Chung Bu as the programme director. "Interactive media" refers to the carrying and dissemination of information through the integration of film and television, art, games, e-sports, network, artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, etc., and is a new media form that carries out information interaction in an all-round way. Zhong Bu firmly believes that "technology is only the carrier, communication is the core", and hopes to cultivate scientific and technological talents who know how to communicate, so that technology products can achieve "people-oriented".

To cover the Capitol riot, ProPublica took more than 500 videos of people storming the building and created an interactive timeline to try to clarify the beginning. (ProPublica)