ATV - Asia Television Limited

ATV probed over 'Jiang dead' report

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2011, 12:00am

The Broadcasting Authority has launched an investigation into an erroneous report by Asia Television on the death of former president Jiang Zemin.

It will also look into the role of the troubled television station's high-profile investor Wong Ching.

'The Broadcasting Authority is investigating the case in accordance with established procedures,' a government statement said yesterday.

'There was also public concern over the role of Wong Ching in ATV's management. The Broadcasting Authority will also conduct an investigation into the matter.'

The authority said it decided to investigate Wong's role after it received complaints and following extensive media coverage

ATV came under fire after the report was aired on July 6. The authority said it had received 41 complaints about ATV's report. Mainland tycoon Wong claimed that the first time he learned of the report was when he saw it on television.

An authority spokesman said: 'We will gather information from ATV and relevant parties. The time frame will hinge on the information the authority gathers and whether interviews need to be conducted.'

A member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Wong is a so-called 'red princeling', as the stepson of a senior communist, the late Shu Tong. He has denied being the source of the false report.

It was not known if the authority's investigation would require ATV's news department to expose the source of its information.

Professor Cheuk Pak-tong, director of Baptist University's academy of film, cast doubts on the investigation's effectiveness.

'The authority should have had a clear idea of the kind of the role that Wong Ching [would] play during the transfer of ATV's ownership, from day one. Why conduct an investigation now?' he asked.

Wong holds no official title, but staff describe him as a controlling influence over operations.

Wong Ben-koon, the station's largest shareholder and a relative of Wong Ching's wife, has several representatives on the station's 11-member board. Three board members, including James Shing Pan-yu, ATV's executive director share the surname Shing with Wong Ching's wife.

Rival shareholder Tsai Eng-meng has two appointees, while investor Payson Cha Mou-sing is also a board member. Some board members had earlier questioned the station's management. Board members also complained that no meeting had been held since November 26, 2010 - against the company's articles of association, which stipulates that a board meeting must be held at least once every three months.

Rebecca Huang Bao-huei, a member of ATV's board, said: 'We also want to know to what extent Wong Ching has been interfering in the operation of ATV. We have been receiving a lot more complaints from staff lately. We are happy to co-operate with the investigation.'

ATV declined to comment.