The Communications Authority has fined Asia Television Ltd. (ATV) HK$200,000 for failing to pay a broadcast license fee of about HK$10 million (US$1.3 million), Apple Daily reported Thursday.
ATV was given an ultimatum: it must cough up the license fee in two instalments, on Feb. 18 and March 18, or face having its license revoked and having to pay interest.
Should ATV fail to satisfy the license fee requirements, the authority could ban the station from broadcasting any programs for up to 30 days.
This is the second time in three years ATV has had difficulty paying the license fees.
Democratic Party legislator Sin Chung-kai said although ATV’s license is expiring in November, it will, in fact, be extended, as the Executive Council must give 12 months’ notice if it decides to take away the station’s operating license.
Sin doubted that the authority would apply for the liquidation of ATV if it fails to pay the license fee by the deadlines.
Fellow Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan urged the government to promise to strip ATV of its license if it fails to pay the fee.
An ATV representative said the company will act proactively to raise the funds for the license fee.
Exco convenor Lam Woon-kwong said he has great sympathy for ATV employees and that the management was to blame for the situation.
“It is ridiculous that shareholders refused to pay employees their salaries but offered to lend money to them,” Lam said.
He said he has never seen anything so ridiculous during his 40 years of public office.
Lam urged the authorities to exert pressure on ATV’s management to put an end to the saga of employees not getting paid.
He did not comment on rumors suggesting that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is keen for ATV to retain its license. Lam said all cases will be dealt with according to the law.
Sin said ATV is now a TV station with three Nos — no salaries, no quality and no one watching.
He said it would not be a pity to close down the station.
Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said the government has to take responsibility for the chaos existing at ATV.
Mo said Exco is like a black hole with zero transparency and can freely do whatever it wants to, including renewing ATV’s license.
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