LeTV’s self-mockery over debt troubles in holiday promotion draws attention
Published: Feb 07, 2021 12:10 PM

Screenshot of LeTV's app

Chinese streaming service provider Leshi Internet Formation and Technology Corp (LeTV) is making a rare move ahead of the holiday season by relabeling its mobile app with the clear note of a 12.2 billion yuan debt under the company's name, which is interpreted by many as a self-mockery on its debt troubles after the company's founder, Jia Yueting, fled to the US, leaving the huge debt unsolved.

"The connotation of the note is to face the hardship with a positive mood," a source with the company told the Global Times on Sunday, noting that the company's business is currently operating normally.

The move comes as internet companies launch promotional activities by giving out billions of yuan of cash red envelopes to users, with many relabeling their mobile apps with the exact amount of money they promise to offer, a regular activity to boost sales during holidays. 

LeTV's move is in stark contrast with the rest of its opponents, immediately drawing the attention of the public and media.

The hashtag "LeTv owes 12.2 billion yuan" has been trending on China's social media platform Sina Weibo, Chinese Twitter, on Sunday, triggering widespread discussion among netizens.

Many took it as an interesting sign that the company was optimistic about its bleak financial situation, while others were scrutinizing the company's unsolved debt issues. 

LeTV's 'awkward' relabeling of its app is believed to be with the initiative of pure self-mockery of the app developer, or perhaps the app was changed illegally by hackers. Both assumptions from online users remained unconfirmed by the company.

The livestreaming company has been constantly under the spotlight. Not long ago, Zhang Zhao, the former CEO and executive director of LeTV Pictures, passed away, prompting a flood of memorials, for his contribution to the development of China's filming industry.

Yet the more significant public attention toward the company has been due to its unsolved debt posed by its founder Jia.

The founder, who was placed on a national debtor blacklist and fled to the US in late 2017, was banned for life from participating in China's securities market, and subject to a 241.2 million ($35.2 million) yuan fine by Chinese security regulators, according to the company's statement in September, 2020.

Although, LeTV creditors have repeatedly traveled to the US for debt collection purposes after Jia's escape, the debt issue remains unresolved.

More recently, LeTV was listed as the unit subject to execution by Beijing Chaoyang District People's Court, with the execution target of 64,300 yuan, media reported.

Global Times