Veteran TV broadcaster, producer, satellite TV pioneer, and content distributor Robert Chua has been tapped as VideoAge‘s International TV Distribution Hall of Fame honoree for the January 2020 (NATPE Miami) Issue. With Chua, VideoAge celebrates TV business in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia.
VideoAge last met with Chua in Cannes during MIPCOM 2019, where he’d traveled with his wife, Peggy. The inseparable pair have been married for 45 years.
The former Peggy Jen was the last of Robert’s assistants at Hong Kong TV station TVB, where he worked for six years until 1973. In 1974, Chua and Peggy started Robert Chua Productions. In 1975, the couple produced 26 episodes of Audio Visual Robert Chua for Hong Kong’s RTV. And in 1977, they produced Asia Singing Contest, also for RTV, which became a big hit.
Looking at the Chuas’ 1974 wedding pictures, one cannot help but marvel at the movie-star looks of Peggy, while Robert, who then wore a thin mustache under a pair of oversized square eyeglasses, has become more handsome with age.
VideoAge first met the Chuas in Hong Kong in 1994 when Robert was running China Entertainment Television Broadcast (CETV). He had founded the 24-hour satellite TV station, which focused on Mainland China, that same year.
AOL Time Warner became a CETV shareholder in 2001. Two years later, CETV was acquired by TOM Group, the Hong Kong-based media conglomerate. TOM Group closed CETV in 2016.
Chua had originally settled in Hong Kong in 1967 at age 21, moving from his native Singapore where he worked as a producer at Radio and Television Singapore, the first television station in Singapore.
He left for Hong Kong when the colony was caught up in the midst of China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1972). He grew up in a Singapore, which, in 1946, the year Chua was born, was declared a U.K. colony. He left it after Singapore became an independent republic in 1965. However, when he reached Hong Kong in 1967, the British colony was besieged by Chinese Communist guerrillas, and police armed with tear gas patrolled the streets constantly.
Thirty years later, Chua also witnessed another British handover, that time to China. Now, 23 years after the handover, China is, once again, trying to put the former colony under its dictatorial thumb, sparking violent demonstrations and clashes between police and residents.
Chua’s TV career started at ADS-7, a TV station in Adelaide, Australia, just after he graduated from King’s College in Adelaide in 1964. He returned to Singapore in 1966 to work for Radio and Television Singapore before leaving for Hong Kong.
“My interest in television,” he explained, “started in 1963 when I heard that Singapore was about to start its first broadcast TV station.” Chua’s family was in the clothing business, manufacturing their own brand of children’s wear.
In Hong Kong, Chua launched the variety show Enjoy Yourself Tonight on TVB, which became one of the world’s longest-running live shows, lasting for 28 years. He also produced the Miss Hong Kong beauty pageant show in 1973.
In 1979, Chua started the first advertising agency in China, which worked with Guangdong Television, and promoted Citizen watches.
In 1983, Chua started a regular Hong Kong-Singapore “commuting” that lasted six years to run Singapore’s Hoover Live Theatre that featured local Hong Kong and Taiwanese performances.While going back and forth from Singapore to Hong Kong, Chua also produced Guess Who’s Coming To Yum Cha, an English-language situation comedy for Hong Kong’s TVB Pearl.
In 2003, with his own production company, Chua produced the interactive quiz show Everyone Wins, which aired in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Vietnam. A year later he created an interactive online TV channel, Health & Lifestyle.
Chua went back to production in 2015 with the reality show Someone Who Cares for Hong Kong TVB-2. A year earlier he was appointed to the board of advisors of RTHK, Hong Kong’s public broadcaster, which now operates seven radio stations and three TV channels.