Talk show host Lee Tao (李濤) has taken temporary leave as host of the 2100 Talk Show (2100全民開講), TVBS said on Monday.
Lee’s decision has sparked speculation that he has left because of the show’s dismal ratings. He has hosted the show for almost two decades.
After Television Broadcasts Ltd (TVB), Hong Kong’s leading TV station, transferred ownership of TVBS to a consortium led by HTC Corp chairwoman Cher Wang (王雪紅) in March 2011, speculation arose that drastic changes were to be made to the TV station’s hosts and anchors.
According to sources, Lee and his wife, Lee Yen-chiu (李豔秋), the hostess of TVBS’ News Night Club (新聞夜總會), were high on a shortlist of employees to be made redundant, particularly after TVBS chairman Harvey Chang (張孝威), who took over in May last year, learned about the high salaries paid to the couple and their shows’ dismal ratings.
Lee Tao received approximately NT$90,000 per episode for the 2100 Talk Show, which airs daily from Monday to Friday, but scored an average viewer rating of merely 0.3 percent, while his wife, who is paid NT$60,000 per episode, also gets lackluster ratings, the source said.
In a statement on Monday, TVBS said Lee Tao decided to take temporary leave from the show because of a plan to visit various parts of the nation in the following year to prepare for a special project on the beauty of Taiwan.
The project will be part of the TV station’s effort to mark the 20th anniversary of its founding this year, the statement said, adding that Lee Tao would return to the show about 10 months later.
The statement said that the host of TVBS’ 2100 Talking Weekend (2100週末開講), Tung Chih-sen (董智森), would fill in for Lee Tao during this period and that no changes would be made to the News Night Club.