Cable TV will go off the air on June 6 this year, ending a 1-year history of pay broadcasting. The establishment and rise of cable sports stations has changed the ecology of sports media in Hong Kong and the habits of sports fans, and has also made football commentators a profession. The cable sports station became popular with Keyman, cultivated a generation of Lau Shunwen, Fang Baiqiao, Chen Weiru and other generation of talkers, and was once the cradle of Hong Kong's sports criticism circle.

Yan Guanxin (front row, first from left), former senior program director of cable sports station, shared a group photo of Liu Shunwen when he got married with reporters. There are also wired speakers such as Li Deneng, Cui Jintang, Zhang Zhide and He Bolin. (Photo by Yan Minghui)

Veteran football commentator Li Deneng debuted in the 80s and has spoken in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Wireless and ATV. Since his opening in 1993, he has also worked part-time for cable for 30 years, from the initial Eredivisie and Baja Liga, to the Premier League, Serie A, international competitions such as the World Cup and Europa League, and finally the Championship and Japanese Championship in recent years.

Since the opening of the cable station, Li Deneng has been working part-time for cable talking. In the blink of an eye, he had gone from his thirties to sixty. (Photo by Yan Minghui)

The emergence of cable Speaking Polay has become a new industry

Lee said that before the establishment of Cable, Hong Kong's football commentators "could count on two hands". He said: "How many waves does free-to-air TV broadcast throughout the year? The amount of work is enough to support becoming a career, until the advent of dedicated sports channels, there is enough work to make people quit their jobs full-time. After the cable took off, a profession of football commentator appeared."

I planned to take pictures with Li De in front of the wired gate, and after this one, there were already security guards who came out to drive them away. (Photo by Yan Minghui)

In the early days of the cable, the commentators were Li Deneng and Liu Dongping, and Lai Ru, who was the director of the station, was about to end up in the middle of the scene, and later promoted Ma Qiren and lecturer behind the scenes. Li Deneng continued: "When the sports channel appeared in '93, ESPN began to have Cantonese in '95, and the commentator first went to the United States, and then went to Singapore, and Huang Xinggui, He Hui, and Jiang Zhongde were born in the generation of ESPN."

Li Deneng, who was in his Chinese New Year's Eve, hosted the 1996 Europa League program for cable. (Screenshot of online clip)

With the rise of cable and the four major European leagues, more than 30 live matches broadcast every week, and the demand for football commentators has increased. Li Deneng said: "When I was in college, I used to do stage plays, and after playing in '93, I began to reduce my plays, and rehearsals are actually such a luxury, usually on weekends, and I talk more and more on weekends. After 96 years, I stopped performing again, and I didn't even watch the play, and I had to talk about recording and broadcasting on idle days and nights. For a while, I can actually talk full-time, but I've always talked about waves in front of the screen as a full-time one."

In the 1996 Europa League final, Zeng Weizhong was a guest and attended a live cable program. (Screenshot of online clip)

With many games and few commentaries, cable intercom poles were thirsty for talent, and three commentator recruitment competitions and training classes were held, initially selecting people based on the tapes sent, and later turning the games into TV programs. In the first session, Wired excavated Lee Wing Kee and Yu Yiming. In the second edition, more up-and-coming participants included Lau Shun Man, Chan Wai Ru, Ho Pak Lin and Fong Pak Chiu. Among the participants of the third cohort, Chan Zhijun is still active in the industry.

Liu Shunwen participated in the 2010 World Cup Carnival and used his musical talent. (Screenshot of online clip)

Ma Qiren, who participated in the first two selections and training, believes that this is an unprecedented page in the history of the football commentary industry, "The industry itself is changing the dynasty, usually retirement, talking about the Bo Lingao audience, it is difficult to accept a new person." In fact, they all have an impact on the old people, and everyone may not feel that the old people have to do it again. Large-scale regime change is rare, good for the company, more affordable labor, more new forces."

Ma Qiren joined the cable sports station after graduation and inadvertently embarked on the road of speaking. (Photo by Yan Minghui)

"I'm volunteering to be a Polacock"

Through the commentator competition, Li Deneng discovered that Talker became a volunteer. He said, "It turns out that young people are good at being commentators. I used to be an announcer, you knew sports, you went to talk about waves, you knew the street market, you did women's programs, they were all about talking waves, they wanted to talk about waves, and they had fantasies about football commentators. If you want to introduce yourself, Liu Shunwen with a knot to bury him on the groan, you know you are the best at it, one of the lyrics is "I volunteer to be a polo". Suddenly, when did the Polaise become a volunteer?"

Yan Guanxin, who has been a program director on cable sports for many years, shared a photo of him in charge of commenting on the recruitment of the competition. (Photo by Yan Minghui)

The new generation focuses on balancing data and analysis

He said that all the commentators in this class of cable training were diligent and enthusiastic, "I am brave enough to say that the level of meticulousness in doing your homework is beyond the seniors of the first class, and surpasses the seniors of me and me." Li Deneng also saw the change in the commentator's style, he explained: "My predecessors are the mentality department, the strength is the analysis of field waves, the department is to talk about the data you listen, the later generation to the family, the audience knows and reads well, don't talk about teaching you to watch the waves, I talk about supporting the data you listen."

He continued: "The proportion of competition analysis and data data, when to talk about the main points, the most important skill of a generation of commentators is to bury the conversation on the side, you speak vernacular out of thin air, if there is too much information, you will talk about more waves."

Yan Guanxin joined cable in 1997 and moved to the sports station in 2000 to be responsible for behind-the-scenes work, leaving in 2020. (Photo by Yan Minghui)

Yan Guanxin, who has worked behind the scenes of cable sports for 20 years, has worked with many commentators from assistant program director to senior program director.

He praised Tsai Wenjian's English "super strong", "The Premier League will have a mixed interview area interview clip, listen to it, and you can immediately talk about the return." He praised Li Deneng as a sports dictionary; Chen Weiru "surpassed the voice", "all the propaganda videos on the cable were recorded"; He said that Li Jianhe is a very Sven person, very different from his style on the court. Yan Guanxin also praised Qiu Jianwei for adapting quickly, "Well, the season has been talked about smoothly and comfortably."

Yan Guanxin shared a photo of him and Qiu Jianwei during the interview. (Photo by Yan Minghui)

Cable TV reached its peak at the beginning of the millennium, and NowTV was founded in 2003 to compete in the pay TV market. In addition to the two TV stations vying for the right to broadcast sports events, there is also a rush for talent, and the value of football commentators is rising. Li Deneng said: "The operators of the new Taiwan want to make a relatively appealing commentator, which has made me earn a lot of money, and the average is 10 years (2000-2010)."

2006 World Cup Final, with commentary by Lee Wing Kee (from left), Lee Deneng, Ma Qi Yan and Pan Yuen Liang. (Screenshot of online clip)

Nearly 1700,<> football matches are broadcast live every year during peak periods

In 2007, Premier League broadcasting rights were transferred from cable to NowTV, causing a large number of cable commentators to jump ship. Li Deneng said: "I have helped Datai do the Games and the World Cup. They all tell jokes, and I'm a commentator who is worth more than a first-line student."

Pay TV competition has intensified, football broadcasting has become an important battlefield, and all stations have broadcast live broadcasts in addition to mainstream leagues, such as the Russian Premier League, the Eredivisie, Ligue 1700, and the Portuguese Premier League. Li Deneng has calculated that the peak of the Hong Kong TV market broadcasts nearly 3400,4 football matches a year, "about two hours a wave, 70,<> minutes a year." Let's say you're a full-time fan, and when you come back to work, you have no big vacation at the end of the year, and you can watch <> and a half games a day." During that period, he estimated that there were <> commentators in the industry.

Li Deneng believes that the suspension of cable broadcasting is related to the change of times. (Photo by Yan Minghui)

Football commentators keep losing "up to half back"

With the decline of cable and the imminent discontinuation of broadcasting on June 6, the prosperous era of the pay TV market is gone, and only NowTV is still supported. Li Deneng said: "There must be a short pain, the previous expansion of the industry, the expansion is so critical, the practitioner enters the face to life, there has been a wrong income, the market shrinkage will inevitably have a painful stage, survive the weak and stay strong, some people may fade out, the reduction is inevitable."

Lee Tak-neng, who used to be the chairman of the Hong Kong Football Commentators Association, said: "The process actually started for several years, and then I heard a lot of talk, some left Hong Kong, some changed jobs. Compared with the peak period, there are half of the people in the industry, from 70 to now there may be more than twenty football commentators, and at most half will return."

The Premier League commentary combination of Li Deneng and Ma Qiren is unforgettable for fans. (Screenshot of online clip)

Ma Qiren graduated in 1993 and joined the cable sports station, and since 1994 has been exposed to football narration, becoming a cable generation pillar speaker. He left cable in 2007 and has worked through various media organisations in a variety of genres of programme hosting, acting and event planning. He believes that today's football commentators are not as influential as before, "because the Internet, there is a lot of diversity, and everyone watches one or two games together."

Ma Qiren did not regret leaving cable in 2007, but he never had the opportunity to go back. (Photo by Yan Minghui)

He continues: "The objective environment is created [by the audience as an expert]. Regardless of whether it is a free-to-air TV and cable, I used to watch one wave collectively on Saturdays, and there were 7 waves for you to choose, so the commentators were influential and impressed. Now at the same time, there is only the Premier League, there are La Liga, Ligue 1, tennis, F<>, and there may be other obscenities on social media, all of which are scattered. My role exists, but my influence is much lower."

The fifth and final episode of the "Cable Sports People" series, published on May 5, is about the change of Premier League broadcasting rights in Hong Kong from free-to-air TV to pay-TV, and the former strongest weapon to attract customers to the stage, and finally was robbed into an unaffordable sky-high cost.

Cable TV will go off the air on June 6 this year. (Profile picture)

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