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Hong Kong's television industry has been accused of hitting a new low after TVB's latest talk show Sze U Tonight seemingly copied the sets and format of popular American shows from Jimmy Fallon to David Letterman.Critics said the TVB show, hosted by comedian Johnson Lee Sze-chit, not only reflected a lack of creativity in television production, but warned the similarity in format and set design could also lead to legal liabilities.
This has a striking resemblance to Fallon's The Tonight Show on NBC.
The set up of Lee's desk, which has an old-style microphone, a pencil holder full of pencils and a coffee mug, is a hallmark of Letterman's Late Show stage setting on CBS.
The show also has a live band, also a signature of both US shows.
Sze U Tonight achieved 16 rating points on Sunday, equivalent to a TV audience of more than a million, which accounted for 93 per cent of the free-to-air audience.
A TVB spokesman said Lee previously announced that his talk show would "take references" from US talk shows and the criticism was expected.
He said the show did not copy US talk shows entirely as it featured localised content.
Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said it was common for TV stations to localise foreign shows, such as quiz show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? But the two broadcasters acquired the rights from foreign stations.It is understood that TVB did not acquire rights to any of the US talk shows for the production of Sze U Tonight.Luk said Sze U Tonight might fall into copyright traps, but it would depend on whether the affected party took action. It all depends on whether the party being copied will take legal action against the alleged infringer," Luk said.Cultural critic Jimmy Pang Chi-ming said the issue reflected the fact the television industry had reached rock bottom.While troubled ATV could only recycle programmes from decades ago and was still struggling to pay staff salaries, Hong Kong's television audiences suffered from TVB dominance. This is definitely a new low." The Communications Authority said it had received on Monday eight complaints about vulgarity and food wastage during the show."TVB has no competitor, which means they do not need to invest in production," Pang said.