ATV drama continues as chief lodges complaint

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 3:46am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 3:46am

ATV is embroiled in controversy again. Its boss has filed a complaint with the broadcasting watchdog, accusing the station's high-profile investor Wong Ching of meddling in its affairs.

In a letter addressed to Communications Authority chairman Ambrose Ho Pui-him and other members of the watchdog, ATV executive director Louie King-bun wrote that Wong had on multiple occasions interfered in the station's operations.

"As ATV's executive director, I must report Wong's multiple interference in ATV's operations," Louie wrote in the letter, dated yesterday, a copy of which has been obtained by the South China Morning Post.

The television station was last year fined HK$1 million and its former chief James Shing Pan-yu ordered to step down after the authority found that Shing had allowed Wong, who is not a member of ATV's board of directors, to interfere in its operations.

Louie wrote that, against his wishes, Wong had been instructing him to disregard contractual rules in the handling of business affairs. Wong later asked Nicholas Li, a vice-president who handles financial affairs, to carry out his instructions, Louie added.

"But Li's act was against the company's principles," Louie wrote, without elaborating. "I terminated his employment, but [ATV's largest stakeholder] Wong Ben-koon and Wong Ching asked me to give him another chance … [so] I reinstated Li."

According to Louie, Wong Ching sent him a text message on Tuesday afternoon, listing "three crimes" the station chief had committed. That same day, Wong Ben-koon met Louie in Shenzhen and said Louie had to leave ATV because he had not complied with Wong's orders.

At midnight yesterday, Dragon Viceroy, an ATV stakeholder controlled by Wong Ben-koon, issued a statement that Louie was no longer on the station's board of directors. "This is why I must report this. I am still the head of ATV's management as of now," Louie wrote.

The watchdog yesterday confirmed receipt of a complaint regarding control over the station's operations. It declined to name the complainant, but said it would follow up on the matter. Last night, Louie could not be reached for comment and ATV did not respond to inquiries.

Last August, Louie, former executive editor of leftist newspaper Ta Kung Pao, replaced Shing after the authority ruled the latter breached licensing terms by letting Wong interfere with ATV's day-to-day operations.

The authority began its investigation in July 2011 after allegations that Wong gave instructions on a newscast falsely reporting the death of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin .