Platforms, politics and precarity: Hong Kong television workers amid the new techno-nationalist media agenda

Platforms, politics and precarity: Hong Kong television workers amid the new techno-nationalist media agenda
Tommy Tse & Holy Hoi-Ki Shum
In contrast to the infrastructural properties of Western media platforms aiming at market power expansion, the digital platform model in China is designed and developed with a techno-nationalist media agenda. In the case of Hong Kong, we look into how exactly the platformisation process restructures and interacts with its surrounding cultural, economic, political and social activities. This article contributes to the Creative Labour Studies by analysing the intricate linkages between the city’s unique socio-historical, technological and political trajectories and the lived dynamics of television work. Through in-depth interviews with Hong Kong TV workers, we reinstitute the techno-political to the analytical lens of Creative Labour Studies. We posit that the ebb and flow of Hong Kong’s TV industry and its creative labour process are not just guided by economic considerations under global media platformisation, but also uniquely entangled with its historical legacies, socio-technical contexts, and political and ideological framework. Our empirics show how the conflicting strategies directed by both the platformised business models and an unprecedented techno-nationalist media agenda generate ambiguity and inconsistency in daily TV operations. The elevated self-censorship and loss of editorial autonomy alongside the rapid media platformisation reinforce a normative ‘moralist regime’ creating specific forms of precarity and dissatisfaction among Hong Kong TV workers, undermining the development of the creative industry and a creative career. But the changing techno-political conditions also alter TV workers’ perceived nature, functionality and value of creative work, enacting a self-governed ‘ethical regime’ in their professional practices, and open up new creative opportunities.

Publication date

1 Jan 2022 – 30 Nov 2022

Journal title, volume/issue number, page range

European Journal of Cultural Studies, 00(0), 1-24