Tycoon Tsai Eng-meng accuses ATV of mismanagement
Vivienne Chow and Austin Chiu
A row over free-television licences has given renewed impetus to a battle among ATV shareholders, with Taiwanese tycoon Tsai Eng-meng accusing the broadcaster of mismanagement and risking its licence.
Tsai's company, San Want Media Holdings, sought leave from the High Court yesterday to apply for the appointment of an independent supervisor to the station's board of directors.
In his submission, Tsai said he was unhappy with "messy management" that landed the broadcaster in the news every few days.
Mr Justice Aarif Barma, in the Court of First Instance, said there was an "arguable case" and allowed Tsai's application. Tsai will now apply for Antenna Investment, which he owns jointly with Payson Cha Mou-sing and Johnson Cha Mou-daid, to appoint an independent adviser to ATV. A date for the next hearing was not set.
San Want condemned major investor Wong Ching and his relative James Shing Pan-yu, ATV's executive director, for mismanaging the station.
It also accused the pair of trying to keep other stakeholders out of the company's affairs.
"San Want believes that if the misconduct and mismanagement of ATV were to be allowed to continue, ATV is at a real risk of losing its licence," it said in a statement.
Snack tycoon Tsai owns 49 per cent of the voting shares of Antenna Investment, which controls more than 47 per cent of ATV. The rest of ATV's shares are owned by Wong Ben-koon, a relative of the high-profile Wong Ching, who has no official role in the company management.
The stakeholders are in the midst of a long-running battle for control of the station.
In recent weeks, ATV has been vocal in its criticism of a potential rival, free-television licence applicant City Telecom (CTI).
On November 11, it broadcast its own protest against granting more licences, attracting more than 2,100 viewer complaints.
The station yesterday accused CTI employees of obtaining confidential information from it. CTI hit back with a libel suit. ATV also complained to police that data and documents had been stolen from its headquarters. Tai Po police are investigating.
Apart from the licensing saga, ATV drew 40,000 complaints in September after its ATV Focus programme alleged an anti-national-education movement was manipulated by Legislative Council election candidates.