Hong Kong’s Communications Authority is said to be recommending that the license of the cash-strapped free-to-air broadcaster Asia Television Ltd. (ATV) not be renewed, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Wednesday.
The regulator is believed to have submitted its proposals to the Executive Council last week on license renewal for the city’s two terrestrial television broadcasters.
The report, meanwhile, said that more than three parties have shown interest in investing in ATV.
One of the investors, said to be a person who has been in the city’s entertainment industry and has good relationship with Television Broadcasts Ltd. (TVB, 00511.HK), is looking at buying HK$500 million (US$64.5 million) stake in ATV from major shareholder Wong Ching, the report said, citing Stephen Chan Chi-wan, chief adviser of Commercial Radio Hong Kong and a former TVB manager.
TVB is the other free-to-air television broadcaster in Hong Kong and ATV’s chief rival.
The anonymous investor is also said to have pledged to inject HK$2 billion into ATV in the next three years. Yet the deal could not be inked as Wong raised his asking price for the stake to HK$700 million at the eleventh hour, Chan was quoted as saying in a Commercial Radio program.
The Chinese government has been worried that entry of new players into the TV broadcasting market may not be good, added Chan, noting that it would be in Beijing’s interests if ATV can renew its license with the backing of a “trustworthy” investor.
Meanwhile, TVB may want someone with whom it has a good relationship to take over ATV. It is even possible that TVB could invest in ATV at a later stage and market joint commercial advertising packages to avoid competition, according to Chan.
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