TVB has defended its neutrality after admitting that several of its clients suspended advertising with the company.

The broadcaster told HKFP on Wednesday that clients had pulled ads owing to recent political and economic events. It comes after users on the Reddit-like LIHKG forum launched a campaign urging companies to abandon their links with the embattled TV station over coverage they consider biased.

File photo: In-Media.

“Due to the recent economic situation and political incidents, a small number of individual advertisers have [decided] to defer their campaigns, or reschedule their bookings for one reason or another,” a spokesperson said. “We will handle their requests on a case-by-case basis. This has no significant effect on our business.”

TVB did not reveal the reasons behind the ad deferment but defended its neutrality saying it presents the news with “accuracy and due impartiality.”

Hong Kong has been rocked by weeks of protests sparked by the government’s extradition bill, proposed in February, which would enable the city to handle fugitive transfers requests from jurisdictions where there are no prior agreements – notably, China. The bill was suspended on June 15 after mass demonstrations, but not axed.

Photo: Isaac Yee/HKFP.

LIHKG users have praised companies for halting ads on TVB including US restaurant chain Pizza Hut and isotonic beverage brand Pocari Sweat, which netizens claim have cut ties with the network in light of recent concerns.

Some have posted pictures of themselves buying boxes of the Japanese sports drink along with messages and illustrations expressing their support.

An illustration depicts TVBuddy, the mascot for Hong Kong broadcaster TVB, in a casket next to a character drinking Pocari Sweat, with the phrase to ‘die a natural death’ above – a phrase used by Chief Executive Carrie Lam on July 9 to describe the extradition bill. Photo: Knight Lai/Facebook.

HKFP has reached out to Pizza Hut and Pocari Sweat, but did not receive a response.

Photo: Facebook screenshot.

Wonder Life, a local condom manufacturer, wrote in a Facebook post that the company would not advertise with the network until its management reconsiders its approach and “responds directly to society’s demands.”

A TVB cameraman was obstructed last month by anti-extradition law protesters, who accused the channel of selectively broadcasting material to favour the police.

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Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.