Monday, January 11, 2010

Scratchy start to Year of the Tiger as Chinese events clash

Failure to bring two of Auckland's biggest Chinese New Year festivals into one grand event has resulted in a spat between the organisers of the two events meant to usher in the Year of the Tiger next month.

For the first time since World Television organised its first Chinese New Year festival and concert in 2008, the event will clash with the 22-year-old Auckland Chinese Community Centre's Chinese New Year Festival and Market Day.

Both are scheduled for February 13, which is Chinese New Year's Eve.

The community centre says that WTV, by holding its event on the same day, is snatching away some of its regular market stall-holders.

"Some stallholders who had previously booked four stalls are taking just one this year," said Kai Luey, vice-president and event organiser.

"And some who had changed their minds and wanted to participate in our market day could not do so because WTV has a no-cancellation policy in its contracts.

"The folk at WTV are just hard-headed commercial people. I've suggested to them when we met at the [Chinese] consular office that we about organising a common event, but they never responded."

The community centre charges $140 a stall, but WTV charges more than $300 - and sometimes up to $50,000.

Two years ago, the centre also accused WTV of claiming its inaugural event was to replace the centre's longstanding festival. The centre felt forced to pay for print advertisements to say its festival was still running, because WTV refused to promote it.

"We were stabbed in the first year," said Mr Luey, "and now that their event is more established they are treating us like poor country cousins. That's arrogant."

The community centre holds its market festival at the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane during the day, while the WTV event runs at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre in Manukau from the afternoon until late.

"While it's possible for the crowd to be part of both events, it is impossible for many of the stallholders to have the resources to do the same," Mr Luey said.

But WTV chief executive Henry Ho told the Herald it was impossible for the two groups to work together to organise a common event because "we have different directions".

"We are a commercial media organisation and any public show we put on has to be more professional than a festival that is being organised by a community group," said Mr Ho.

"We also have to make a profit or pay for the losses from our own pockets. Our event is not organised to just make every Chinese community leader happy."

Mr Ho said the clash in dates was also inevitable, because Waitangi Day falls on the weekend before Chinese New Year's Eve and it was inappropriate to hold the festival after New Year.

He says no one from the centre's leadership would be officially invited to attend WTV's festival because it was not the firm's policy to do so.

Nor would it promote the community centre's festival through its television stations, radio channels and magazine unless the centre paid for advertising.

"If the ACCC wants to pay for advertising we will be happy to put their ads on, but they cannot expect us to do it for free."


* Begins on February 14 and ends on February 2, 2011.
* The Tiger is the third in the cycle of the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 animal signs.
* It is a sign of courage, and revered as the sign that wards off the three main disasters of a household - fire, thieves and ghosts.
By Lincoln Tan | Email Lincoln
By Lincoln Tan
4:00 AM Monday Jan 11, 2010

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