Hong Kong's ATV station collapsing after owing millions in staff salaries

6 January 2015 / 1 year 9 months ago

Former stars of Hong Kong's beleaguered Asia Television station want Ricky Wong, who is behind the startup Hong Kong TV, to go to its rescue.

Acclaimed actors Nick Cheung, an ATV star for six years, and Anthony Wong, who was in the first batch of ATV training classes, voiced their concerns on Wednesday amid news that the station was teetering on the brink of collapse.

ATV, set up in 1957, is Hong Kong's oldest TV station.

South China Morning Post said staff had threatened to walk out on Thursday over unpaid salaries. The station owes more than 700 staff over HK$15 million (S$2.5 million) in wages as it tries to find a new buyer and ensure its free-to-air licence is renewed in November this year, reported the Post.

On Wednesday, it cancelled several of its news programmes as the Labour Department announced that the station is being prosecuted for "wilfully" not paying salaries in September. Staff also got half of their November salaries this week.

Under licensing conditions, the broadcaster must maintain its news service to keep its permit, reports ST Communities.

ATV's executive director Ip Ka Po had been quoted as saying its investors have refused to offer any more finance. However, he claimed on Wednesday that investors from around the world have expressed interest in buying over the shares.

He also said Ricky Wong, the City Telecom chief who failed last year to win a free-to-air TV licence, was interested in joint productions with ATV. Wong launched Hong Kong Television on the Internet last year, to good response.

On Wednesday, Cheung told Apple Daily that only Wong could have the resources to bail out ATV.

Anthony Wong fired at ATV, saying, "Not paying wages and yet keeping its licence... I can do that too." He also suggested that Ricky Wong buys over the station.

According to Wall Street Journal, ATV in its programming has grown out of touch with local viewers and it mostly airs reruns of decades-old dramas. With TVB, ATV had dominated the television industry in Hong Kong in the 1980s.

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