After Tan Ge demonstrated the method of deshelling the bugs to the newcomers, Kevin Lin had no more plans to continue broadcasting. Although this was in line with the original plan, the live dinner broadcast should have lasted 15 to 20 minutes, but since the broadcast had started, only 10 minutes had passed, and it was shorter than predicted.
Kevin Lin was helpless; if the broadcast continued, there might be detrimental scenes, so he decided to pause it.
"All right, many thanks to our young comrade for his explanation." Kevin Lin acknowledged Tan Ge as he once again put on a forced smile and faced the camera lens. "Following this, we will be having our meal. As time is precious, we will pause the broadcast here. We will see everyone later."
Kevin Lin waved at the camera lens and ended the broadcast. The weak smile on his face disappeared, and when he looked at the few half-cooked bugs on the plates, his complexion became even worse.
Around him, the new batch of conscripts that were all tensed up finally relaxed after the broadcast ended. They did not want to lose face in the middle of the broadcast and so had endured their urge to throw up.
A new conscript muttered to his comrade beside him, "Has the live broadcast ended?"
"It got cut already. Didn't you see that reporters face turning green? I reckon he feels horrible."
"Huuu. No longer broadcasting is good, it was so stifling. When that guy was explaining, I could feel my gut twisting."
"I wonder whether the camera filmed us just now. From where we are sitting, we should have been captured, right?"
While the newcomers discussed in muted voices, there were some who curiously studied the food on their plates. Not everyone was unable to accept this. There were people that had outstanding adaptability, but they were a very small minority.
Kevin Lin watched as Fang Zhao placed the edible portion of the deshelled bug into his mouth and could not help but exclaim, "The broadcast has been cut, we are no longer filming." There was no longer any need to continue pretending.
Kevin Lin did not finish speaking as he noticed that Fang Zhao did not seem to have an adverse reaction. Fang Zhao only knitted his brows slightly as he chewed on it but did not spit it out.
Kevin Lin could not help but ask, "How is it?"
"Not too bad. It has a rather strong, earthy flavor," Fang Zhao replied as he proceeded to work on a second bug on his plate.
This time, Kevin Lin carefully observed Fang Zhao's reaction, and he noticed that this young fellow was neither lying nor pretending.
A great distance away, in First Frontline's chief editor's office, the chief editor in charge of Project Starlight, Bacary, was reading the reports he had received from his five subordinates.
A while ago, Kevin Lin, the last to reach his respective destination, had sent news from planet Baiji. Now in his hands were real-time situation reports about the five stars.
After First Frontline had announced a collaboration with Project Starlight, they had done a survey online, and online audiences' first desire had been to see the types of meals at each military service venue.
Clothing, food, housing, and transportation were the focal points of everyone's attention. Food had ranked first, so Bacary had given his five subordinates an assignment to get information on the food situation at each location as soon as possible, as well as how the celebrities were adapting to the new environment.
The five incorporated planets for Project Starlight's experimental phase had all chosen to portray themselves as being really poor. This was what Bacary had expected. The five planet's conditions were all somewhat similar. But upon reading his subordinate's reports, Bacary's eyebrows flew upwards in surprise.
Bacary had watched all five channels' live broadcasts and was aware of the situations, but what was shown on-screen was not necessarily the truth. These celebrities might keep their expressions in check and show that they were adapting fine and not appear high and mighty or in any way that might cause audiences to react, but based on his own experiences, Bacary could guess whether these people were acting or not. He did not believe the image shown on-screen. He only believed his own subordinates' reports.
Bacary believed that whatever he saw on-screen was fake, so as he read through his subordinate's reports, he was astonished.
The summarized reports in his hands were as follows:
Channel S1's Lee Xiaoxiao, slightly uncomfortable
Channel S2's Fritz, not adapting well.
Channel S3's Andre, slightly uncomfortable.
Channel S4's Woo Tianhao, slightly uncomfortable.
Channel S5's Fang Zhao, adapting well.
Bacary stared at the words "adapting well" for over 10 seconds. He had been in this line for many years and knew that these results were surely embellished. "Slightly uncomfortable" was obviously excluding some stuff, whereas "not adapting well" meant that the person was suffering and felt extremely uncomfortable.
But what about "adapting well"? How much of that was an overstatement?
Thinking about the the tasks that the top brass had arranged, Bacary did not hesitate to use up precious time for instantaneous communication. He contacted Kevin Lin on planet Baiji.
Bacary did not waste any time talking nonsense. He got straight to the point. "Kevin, this 'adapting well,' was it exaggerated?"
Over on the other side, Kevin Lin was already in a single lounge outside the dining hall and did not have to worry about others listening in. Bacary having his suspicions was within Kevin Lin's expectations.
Kevin Lin sighed and replied, "My description is indeed slightly off. In truth, he is adapting too f*cking well! Do you know how many plates he had? Plates the size of..."
Kevin Lin brought his hands in front of him to simulate plates that could fit at least two of his own heads. "Five plates! He has already had five plates! Those medium-rare bugs that are coarse and disgusting, he had five plates of! Among all those here on their first day, he ate the most! I only ate one piece and could not bring myself to go on. The rest were all settled by him. Right now, he is still over there consuming more!"
Upon hearing this, Bacary fell silent for a bit. Squinting and rubbing his beard, he asked, "How are his table manners?"
"They cannot be considered graceful, but they are not coarse either. He just eats a little too quickly. I had not finished my first piece yet he had already gone through a whole plate." Kevin Lin felt that it was still unimaginable. He had been assigned to follow Fang Zhao for quite some time already, but it seemed like this was the first time he had gotten to know Fang Zhao.
"That doesn't matter. Do a live broadcast in the dining hall the next time you are there for a meal," Bacary said.
Kevin Lin was apprehensive. "You r-really want to broadcast this? Will it lead to a negative reaction from the audience?"
"No choice, these are instructions from the top. The other four still haven't adapted enough yet; only the one you are following is able to stomach their cuisine. If we don't have anything to broadcast, people will question this project and compare it to low-end entertainment programs of the past, where what you saw was not what you got."
Now the top brass had a clear idea. Shooting many films and movies could not be compared to an instantaneous live broadcast where everyone could see for themselves the hardship in such a place, raising awareness and letting them feel grateful for what they had.
At this point, the stars of the other four channels had not adapted yet. Only S5 was a special case. Surely this opportunity to show a fine example could not be wasted!
Kevin Lin was still unwilling. "But won't we lose fans if we broadcast this? Our S5 channel already has the lowest viewership. If we broadcast such disturbing scenes, we will lose more viewers."
"Of course we have considered what you are worrying about. How about this, if you do a live broadcast of your mealtime, I ask the higher-ups to increase your broadcast time by 5 minutes!"
Five minutes alone was short, but in terms of a real-time live broadcast from so far away, even a minute was hard to come by. Five minutes was also the most Bacary could fight for.
"Kevin." Bacary lowered his voice as if he was about to reveal a big secret. "Project Starlight is progressing smoothly, and the top brass is very satisfied. Nowadays, there are people from all walks of life donating quite a bit. The Ministry of Education even publicly announced that Project Starlight has a groundbreaking educational value, and one such program has a greater impact than 10 movies. Since Project Starlight implemented it's five channels, four channels are reaping in profits, and only one channel is only breaking even."
"Our channel." Kevin Lin sounded dejected. He had been following the amount of money donated—how could he not know? This was something that he kept worrying about. The viewers on channel S5 were not people who would just fork out large sums of money for donations. Even if those old and retired servicemen wished to donate large sums, would they dare to do it openly? Wouldn't they be worried about online audiences accusing them of corruption?
Kevin Lin had to admit that Fang Zhao had already done well getting their channel to break even. Before the project had started, people had already said that if the losses were not too great, Fang Zhao just needed to continue to serve as encouragement for younger people.
But the other four channels just had to make a profits. As the only channel breaking even, comparing it to the other four, channel S5 seemed especially useless.
Recently, Kevin Lin had been thinking of ways to increase viewership and attract more audiences, but it just so happened that the chief editor wanted him to broadcast content that might not go over well with the audiences.
Bacary could tell what Kevin Lin was thinking. He waved his hands dismissively and laughed. "It's different from what you are thinking. Although your channel is only breaking even among the five, but you know the type of audiences that your channel attracts. There isn't any need for me to go into details, right? Don't worry about it just breaking even. Even if it were making a loss, it might even continue as per normal! This is also an important program!"
Bacary's last sentence was significant. He was telling Kevin Lin that the audience of S5 might not take out money, but what they had was power! News firms had already decided on the characteristics of the five channels. The other four channels were in charge of profits, while S5 was to cater to the top officials and leaders. In any case, this program was a collaborative effort by the military and commercial sectors. Other than profits, the program had to satisfy certain parties. Originally, satisfying both parties would have been thought to be difficult, but progress was decent, and for the time being, Project Starlight seemed to be developing smoothly. Nothing troublesome had occured yet.
Kevin Lin understood. His line of thinking was similar to the company's. He was only acting miserable in front of his chief editor. Since he could not go against their plans, getting more air time as well as the attention of the leadership was quite a worthwhile business transaction.
"Fine, I will try it tomorrow."
Every second of instantaneous communications was money burnt. Having received Kevin Lin's guarantee, Bacary was satisfied and ended the call.
After ending the call, Kevin Lin suddenly recalled something. Previously, the person in charge had mentioned that he would be showing them around other places near the dining hall after dinner and allow some logistics personnel to appear in the live broadcast. Kevin Lin had forgotten to ask Bacary for instructions. If there were any disputable scenes that might affect audiences, was he going to censor it?
Given the old guidelines for a news firm, whenever there was content that might cause unease among audiences, they should use a mosaic to censor it, but after his talk with the chief editor, didn't he mean to have a realistic broadcast?
Forget it, they could do without the censors.