10 Years in Perspective

TorontoTV 10th Anniversary Gala 20120912

TorontoTV goes from 0 to 10 ….  Keep going, keep growing……

Written by Joseph Lau ; Edited by Norma Patricia Armstrong – Aug 25, 2012.

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

Henry David Thoreau (American author.)

From a film projectionist to a WebTV producer, it is a long and winding road.  My    seven years as a film projectionist, gave me an opportunity to watch several hundred movies in a few years.  Watching the movie was my job every day. I have developed an interest to watch them in detail as I had the privilege of repeat viewings over 10+ times. (A movie will be on usually a week or more before the next one.) I was fascinated in the making of a movie, good or bad, and dreamed of making one myself in the 1970s while I was on a trip to China with a movie scriptwriter. Apart from that, I learned to speak Mandarin as most of the movies were Mandarin titles.

After the cinema job, I later worked as a translator, reporter, advertising sales, researcher, computer consultant ………..until I immigrated to Canada in 1991.

In Toronto, I joined in a computer retail store as partner. Through computer business, I kept following up with computer technology.  I came across WebTV technology in 2003. I pictured WebTV technology is my future.

My social activities revolved around the local Chinese communities in Toronto. I had the chance to be President of four non-profit organizations since immigration.  I was interviewed on TV, radio and in newspapers.  Yet I am actually more interested in interviewing others, so I set out to run my own media. WebTV and Internet technology helps achieve my dream.

”It’s impossible” said pride.

“It’s risky” said experience.

“It’s pointless” said reason.

Give it a try” whispered the heart. Anonymous.

I started to build a WebTV station from a garage (no, from my computer retail store in North York) in 2003. TorontoTV was born then.  The first production was called Ontario Election Forum.  The forum was held in Paul Ng’s basement (Mr. Paul Ng was one of my mentors in the development of TorontoTV) with guests including the late Tony Wong, Sandra Yeung Racco, Mario Racco, Winnie Wong, Eric Wen, Godwin Chan, Li Kan Ho, Kathryn Zhao and Thomas Man were the hosts.  In fact, Kathryn Zhao was the first host for TorontoTV.

The first online live program for TorontoTV was Canadian Politics.  I used Live Internet Broadcasting platform to steer the development of TorontoTV. It was a one-hour interview talk show every Friday at 8:00 pm hosted by Thomas Man.  My heartfelt thanks go to Thomas, who inspired me to carry on the talk shows even though we were so lacking in resources at that time. Mr. Bassanio So, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office Director, was one of the guests in the show.  Several other programs were created afterwards to cover Toronto, education, Beijing Opera, singing; 45+ hosts helped TorontoTV to produce 40+ programs for the past 10 years.

We all had our origin. So, I also produced the CCHT (Canada China Hong Kong Taiwan) forum show.  Popular topics: Same Sex Marriage, In Memorial of Anita Mui, were discussed in the shows. Ms. Cyd Ho Sau Lan, Legislative Council member, appeared as our commentator from Hong Kong.

Later, a Federal Election Forum in cooperation with several Chinese media was produced in 2006.

My background enriched my TorontoTV contents.

I was born in Canton (Guangzhou), China. My grandma took me to Hong Kong while I was one-year-old.  I always joke about myself – born in China, raised in Hong Kong, now settled in Canada, retire in ????   My roots in Hong Kong will stay with me forever.  I followed Hong Kong issues through covering the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office and Hong Kong Canada Business Association events.  I even reported HKCBA annual forums in Ottawa and Vancouver.  I also taped Chinese Orchestra concerts in Ottawa and Montreal for HKETO.

I was once on the Hong Kong Journalists Association committee, and Ms Emily Lau, then Far Eastern Economic Review correspondent and current Legislative Council Member, was the President.  So, I had the chance to interview Emily Lau in the historic Legislative Council building when I visited Hong Kong a few years ago. In the same building, I interviewed another Legco member, Choi So Yuk a year later. The two ladies were totally opposite in their political views, but they both impressed me because of their determination in their job.

According to my mother, my uncle was a KMT (Kuomintang) member. But my dad was a Communist Party member.  My uncle’s family moved from Macau to Taiwan in the mid-1970s.  I visited Taiwan several times while attending round-trip electronics fairs (Taiwan, South Korea and Japan). 50,000+ Taiwanese immigrants are part of  the Chinese community in Toronto. Through my contacts, I reported Taiwanese community events as well.  Although I speak Mandarin, I am still being taken as an outsider because of my accent, and I am from Hong Kong.  But, my Hong Kong background allows me to stay connected with both Blue/Green camps in the Taiwanese community.

The Mainland Chinese connection started pretty late compared to the Hong Kong and Taiwanese community connections. The major breakthrough was through the establishment of the Chinese Media Professionals Association (Toronto).  My initiative in organizing the China Snow Storm Fund and Canadian China Earthquake Reporting Team in 2008, helped build up my connection in the mainland Chinese community.  TorontoTV covers most events for this community now.  I was invited to attend the Global Chinese Language Media Forum twice in Shanghai and Chongqing. During the trip, I had the chance to meet many Chinese media from around the world.  My vision began to move from local, regional to global.

I did not forget the Canada connection. We started TorontoTV in 2003 when Toronto Municipal and Provincial elections were held in the same year.  John Tory was the first politician we covered.  Unfortunately, John lost the election and left politics but he is now a popular commentator with Newstalk1010.  The late Tony Wong was nice to me and ran the Ontario Government Update program for TorontoTV.  I also had the chance to be know Michael Chan before he was elected to Queen’s Park. Mayors Dave Barrow and Frank Scarpitti attended our events several times. Councillor Willie Woo from Clarington supports our events too. Godwin Chan hosted an education program before he was elected.  Carol Chan worked with me for the Education Insight program. I have a good network of friends and they were all generous enough to help TorontoTV to develop in the community.

Apart from politics, I was introduced to the Cantonese Opera circle by Alice Chan and Marianne Lui. The Tangtakkwong Cantonese Opera show which I taped, was watched  3000+ times on the Internet.

In 2005, TorontoTV moved to a larger office with a primitive studio.  We started to produce  Live Night Talk Show at 10:00 pm from Monday to Thursday.  TorontoTV Live Cantonese, Mandarin, English and eGeneration programs were produced with help from Catherine Li, Samantha Ma, Stuart Browne, William Song, Qi Mengmeng, Ping Wong, Crystal Yang, Ian Ye, Kathryn Zhao, Adam Xu, Suresh Jaura, Abinta, Leena, and Eva Phung.  Topics included fashion, finance, life style, love, interview, eGeneration, pets, South Asian Outlook.

The same year, we organized a Super Spokesperson Contest.  The Contest ran from the  first audition in the Fall of 2005 until the Semi-Final on Jun 26, 2006. TorontoTV News was published to promote the Contest.  We taped every audition and training session and semi-final – 80 DVDs of video and pictures in total.  Yoga dance was created for performance in the Semi-Final with assistance from Studio 9.  Yoga wear was sponsored by Alan Ho.  Hong Kong TVB used Yoga Wear in their Pageant the same year, but we were ahead of them ideawise.   Club10 hired us to run Miss Club10 2006 and 2007.   The Super Spokesperson Contest’s Semi-Final show was produced with Heart, Fair and Honest by contestants, organizing team and sponsors. A fantastic show was enjoyed by our audience

TorontoTV has used Windows streaming technology to broadcast through the internet since 2003. With various public VOD sites and social media,  like Google, YouTube, facebook, weibo, vimo,  Ku6 , and Youku, we had over 6000 + videos on the Internet. We also had friendly weblinks and sites rebroadcast our streaming videos, either with or without our consent.  Now, with iPhone and Android smartphones, TorontoTV is actually Everywhere.

Recent Developments

At times, we had thirteen channels targeting vertical areas, e.g. communities, news and life style interests.  Now we run five channels in our website – www.TorontoTV.net :

CCHT Channel (China News + Toronto local news);

Diversity Channel (English) for Chinese,  South Asian and Philippines communities,

Lifestyle Channel (fashion, travel, entertainment),

Markhamvoice Channel, and  Shopping/advertising Channel.

Torcn.com and Jzxmedia.cm rebroadcast our CCHT Channel. Southasian.tv and halohalo.biz rebroadcast Diversity Channel.  We have a program exchange agreement with WowTV.  CNS is our source of China News (20+ news everyday).  We just signed as Canada Representative for Momoking animation.

Besides the WebTV, we also published several newspapers, i.e. TorontoTV News, Markhamvoice, Cast Your Vote, XinyiminNews and Huamei Bao.

TorontoTV also organized events to boost our status.

2006 –  Super Spokesperson Contest ;

2008 – Summer Night Youth Music Festival ;

2010 and 2011 – XinYimin (New Immigrant) Interactive Dinner

2010 to current – annual Toronto Chinese media awards.

A few years ago, President Liu of Phoenix TV told me he spent eight years to build Phoenix TV.  I am Mr. Lau of TorontoTV (Lau in Cantonese same as Liu in Mandarin) who spent 10 years to build TorontoTV.

To all my friends, sponsors and audience, I would like to give my heartfelt thank you.   To Thomas Man, Oliver Yang and JK, TorontoTV today was established with your great effort. To my wife, without you there is no TorontoTV. Your spectacular editing skill enriched storytelling in my shooting, more fun and inspiration. Thank you, Anita.

After 10 years, what is next?  Keep going, keep growing…… TorontoTV is for you, for community….