Jan. 22, 2003

By Winnie Chung

HONG KONG -- Television veteran Robert Chua's new game show format, Everyone Wins," has become a winner itself on Shanghai's dominant Oriental Television.

The show made its debut Jan. 1 in the No. 3 slot among more than 25 stations available to Shanghai, according to Nielsen ratings.

"The show has had an impact that I could not have dreamed possible. It took weeks before quiz shows like 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' to establish itself in the U.K., for example," said Chua, who created Hong Kong's first ever "live" variety show, "Enjoy Yourself Tonight," in 1967.

The program is the longest-running variety show on Hong Kong television.

"Everyone Wins" is the first of several new game show concepts created by Chua, who is also chairman and founder of AOL Time Warner's China Entertainment Television, in the past two years.

Seven contestants stand to win a maximum of 115,000 yuan (about $14,000) by answering 20 questions presented in four rounds. All contestants answer the same questions by a secret ballot only each individual contestant and the audience are able to see.

At the end of each round, contestants can choose to swap points with any contestant they feel have scored higher.

The last digit of each contestant's points are also used to form a lucky number. Home viewers can claim a cash prize of 500 yuan ($61) -- which is as much as four times the regular salary of the average Shanghai resident -- if the number matches a utility bill, a telephone number or an ID card number.

Shanghai Oriental Television had originally licensed the program for five nights a week but decided to air the one-hour program -- which is broadcast in the 8 p.m. primetime slot -- every day. The program is hosted by well-known TV personality Chen Rong.

"Television requires a new level of play that includes interactivity. I wanted to get audience participation and positive learning in," said Chua, who is being repped by U.K.-based Action Time outside Asia.

"I've always been against formats like 'The Weakest Link' and 'Survivor' because it teaches people to be selfish."

"Everyone Wins" has also been licensed by Hong Kong's dominant broadcaster Television Broadcasts Ltd. (TVB) as well as Singapore Mediacorp's Channel 8. Both markets are expected to debut their version later this year.

Mediacorp has also acquired two other Chua formats: "Entrepreneur" and "You Be the Judge."

In "Entrepreneur," two teams of contestants are given money to buy merchandise to sell over several days. The team that records the highest profits wins.

"You Be the Judge" will offer a twist on "The People's Court" by taking the court on location. Plaintiffs and defendants will get their chance to present their cases and TV audiences will be allowed to vote on the verdict.

"Entrepreneur" is expected to debut after Chinese New Year in February with You Be the Judge" following later in the year.