Hong Kong’s largest free broadcaster, TVB, announced it will not air next month’s Oscars ceremony, putting the Oscars at risk of not broadcasting in the region for the first time in over 50 years.
Television Broadcasts Ltd. said its decision to not renew the rights to the ceremony was a “purely commercial” reason, according to a statement given to local Chinese media (via Bloomberg).
But the move comes amid reports that China’s Communist party told all local media outlets to downplay live coverage of the ceremony stemming from the nomination of the documentary short “Do Not Split,” which focuses on the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, and past comments made by Chinese-born “Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao.
Other local TV broadcasters in Hong Kong also do not have the broadcast rights, as reported by the Hong Kong news outlet The Standard.
It’s an unusual move given the fact that Hong Kong’s own “Better Days” landed a nomination in the Best International Film category.
Zhao was originally lauded in the Chinese press for first becoming the first Asian woman to win the Golden Globe in the Best Director category — and she earned four of the film’s six Oscar nominations this year for her work on the film.
But Chinese social media stirred up a backlash against Zhao over a 2013 interview in which the director was said to have called China “a place where there are lies everywhere.” And as a result, the Chinese release of “Nomadland” also remains in question.
TVB has aired the Oscars every year since 1969, when the musical “Oliver!” won Best Picture. The 93rd Academy Awards air in Los Angeles on April 25.