25 March 2019
The studio used for ATV's newscasts is a key attraction for mainland tourists. Photo: William Lo/Flickr
The studio used for ATV's newscasts is a key attraction for mainland tourists. Photo: William Lo/Flickr

ATV could extend life by a year as govt ponders license renewal

The long-running Asia Television Ltd. (ATV) saga could continue for as long as a year after the TV station’s broadcast license expires, am730 reported Tuesday.

The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau confirmed that under the Broadcast Ordinance, the Executive Council has until November 30, the end of the period covered by ATV’s existing license, to decide whether to renew it. 

Since a TV station must be given 12 months’ notice if its license is not to be renewed, ATV could operate until November 2016 if Exco decides at the last moment not to extend the license, the report said. 

It quoted Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So as saying the situation at ATV was unsatisfactory.

He stressed Monday that the station’s financial well-being is a factor Exco will consider in reviewing its license. 

The Civic Party’s Claudia Mo Man-ching, who is a member of the Legislative Council’s broadcasting panel, said political considerations are inevitable in the renewal of a broadcast license, hence decision-makers are in somewhat of a dilemma.

Mo predicted Exco will continue to delay its decision. She has invited the Communications Authority to offer Legco an explanation.

Professor Anthony Fung Ying-him, director of the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said it is difficult to determine whether Exco is deliberately delaying its decision. Fung said a proper explanation will be necessary whether the decision goes for or against ATV.

Nearly 800 employees of ATV have yet to receive the remaining half of their pay for November as well as their December salary.

The TV station said it has been in talks with possible white knights to turn things around.

Tsai Eng-meng, the Taiwanese businessman who chairs mainland food manufacturer Want Want Holdings Ltd. and is the second-largest shareholder of ATV, ruled out any capital injection at this stage, saying he would be dumb to pump more money into the troubled station.

Meanwhile, some travel agencies are still conducting paid tours of the ATV station in Tai Po, charging mainland tourists 198 yuan (US$31.85) each, of which 70 yuan goes to ATV as commission.

However, as ATV has ceased to produce new drama series, the tourists are mainly taken to visit the station’s news department as the key attraction.

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