New ATV boss Louie King-bun faces early test of ethics

Incoming director already in the spotlight over political meddling after public anger at show that trashed pro-democracy group last year

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2013, 8:59am

A former ATV news anchor questioned the editorial independence of the beleaguered broadcaster yesterday as its new chief took up his job.

Louie King-bun, formerly executive editor of pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao, yesterday started work at ATV's Tai Po headquarters as its new executive director.

Louie was appointed after James Shing Pan-yu resigned from the job on Saturday.

Shing had been ordered to resign by the Communications Authority after he was found to have breached the terms of the broadcaster's licence by allowing investor Wong Ching to exercise de facto control over it. The authority also fined ATV HK$1 million.

Former ATV news anchor Fifi Ng wrote on her Facebook page yesterday that one of the reasons she had left the broadcaster was increasing self-censorship.

Ng wrote that the management did not allow her to attend a budget forum one month after she confronted Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying after a policy address.

"I think it was self-censorship exercised under political interference," she wrote, without naming the management personnel involved.

Commerce minster Greg So Kam-leung said yesterday that there was no evidence to show that Louie was not a fit and proper person to run the broadcaster.

In response to whether Louie's appointment would worsen alleged political meddling at ATV, So said the Communications Authority would handle the matter. Louie was responsible for a TV show's critical comments on pro-democracy student group Scholarism that drew a record 10,000 complaints at the height of the national education debate last year.

A source close to ATV said Louie had begun approaching his former colleagues at Ta Kung Pao in a bid to recruit them to the station. ATV did not respond to a request for comment.

So said that ATV must propose ways to improve governance within three months. He said ATV was also required to submit a follow-up report every year afterwards.

"I hope we can now move forward and that ATV can improve its corporate governance, providing Hong Kong people with better services," So said.

Meanwhile, the Communications Authority confirmed that Shing had resigned from all the positions he held at ATV, including as executive director and a board member with effect from Saturday.

ATV yesterday ran a music video dedicated to Shing on a continuous loop, praising his three-years of service at the broadcaster in the name of Asia Club.

The video featured a high-spirited song in Putonghua and footage of public speeches made by Shing and ATV's supporters. The video concluded with a full-screen end-frame of Shing's face.