Embattled Asia Television's digital broadcasting platform will receive a facelift next month with the introduction of a Taiwan-style variety show channel for Hong Kong audiences. Since Taiwan rice cracker tycoon Tsai Eng-meng took a stake in the loss-making broadcaster in February, he has wanted to establish a Greater China entertainment platform for his privately owned media assets such as CTI Television and China Television in Taiwan. Mr Tsai's ambition will be realised next month when ATV consolidates its existing eight digital channels into five. One of the selling points will be the CTI Asia channel, which will provide a wider range of Taiwan real-time information and entertainment programmes such as the talk show Kang Xi Lai Le hosted by Cai Kang-yong and Dee Hsu. The 24-Hour News Channel will be transformed into the HDATV Channel featuring 24-hour local, mainland and Taiwan news. Along with the Chinese-language Home Channel, English-language World Channel and CCTV International Chinese Channel, a total of five channels will be available starting from April 1. Industry watchdog the Broadcasting Authority has approved a reduction of ATV's commitment to digital terrestrial broadcasting to HK$177.5 million, from HK$200 million. The company will gradually increase the number of hours of high-definition broadcasting to 38.5 hours per week from 24.5 hours. Hard times March 20 was Black Friday for the city's media industry with more than 2,000 journalists and staff at two leading newspapers receiving notification of pay cuts. Times are becoming increasingly tough for the industry, as free dailies and the internet threaten paid newspapers' business model. Several newspapers had earlier announced similar pay cut arrangements. And not only newspapers are suffering. Television Broadcasts, which laid off 100 of its staff earlier this year, is rumoured to be organising a bigger-scale round of lay-offs, while ATV cut about 200 of its staff earlier this year. Advertising revenue has declined in double digits in the year to date, with several newspapers unable to break even in particular months. 'Right now, nobody knows when the economy will recover, and we are only hoping the recovery will come in the second half of this year,' one executive said. Another newspaper said the real problem was readers getting news from the internet and free dailies. 'They are not willing to pay for content, which has a strong impact on the traditional business model based on the number of readers generating ad sales,' he said. Daring move City Telecom (Hong Kong) chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay has been front-page news since his abridged 12-day career as ATV's chief executive. After the dramatic resignation, he has a new role in the media industry - that of author. Mr Wong recently published his first book in Chinese titled Dare to Think, Dare to Act, to share his management philosophy and the story behind the success of his firm.