Hong Kong broadcasting station, ATV, has been struggling financially for years. ATV’s final days are numbered, as commerce minister Gregory So (蘇錦樑) announced that the station’s broadcasting license will not be renewed next year. So stated that the decision is final and ATV has no right to appeal, as the broadcaster was previously given adequate time to provide a restructuring plan.
At the same time, the government has granted a 12-year license to Richard Li‘s (李澤楷) PCWW’s HK Television Entertainment Company Limited (HKTVE). As HKTVE’s Now TV is a subscription-based service, it remains unlikely that it will directly challenge TVB, who currently monopolizes the free-to-air television market in Hong Kong.
In recent months, ATV struggled to pay employee wages due to its troubled cash flow. The station desperately offered discount advertising costs, hoping to raise enough revenue to stay afloat while it looked for potential buyers. However, majority shareholder Wong Ching (王征) allegedly asked for $2 billion HKD, an astronomical price which scared away buyers.
Earlier this week, ATV reported in its evening news HKTV Chairman Ricky Wong (王维基) would be acquiring the floundering station. Hours later, ATV released a second statement saying that it would be acquired by one of Wong’s companies, rather than HKTV itself.
Wong had previously emphasized repeatedly that he had no interest in acquiring ATV. Yesterday, Wong released a statement that he had met with ATV once to advise them on their operations and how to maintain a free-to-air television channel in Hong Kong. He had never attempted to negotiate an acquisition of ATV, whether on behalf of himself or any of his companies.
Allegedly, ATV deliberately engineered the news of its acquisition, hoping this would help them in receiving their broadcasting license renewal. The former Head of the Financial Services and Treasury Burea of Hong Kong, Frederick Ma (马时亨) opined that ATV’s release of false news of it being acquired could be regarded as an attempt at manipulation of the Hong Kong stock market. ATV could thus have committed a serious regulatory offense.
This article is written by Jingles for JayneStars.com.