Troubled terrestrial broadcaster ATV has lodged its first complaint of unfair competition with the Broadcasting Authority, against its rival in the free-to-air television market, TVB. On Monday, Linus Cheung Wing-lam resigned as chairman and a director of ATV, after a dispute emerged between its two big stakeholders - Taiwanese snack-food tycoon Tsai Eng-meng and the family of Mingly Corp chairman Payson Cha Mou-sing. ATV's production, administration and public relations vice-president, Ip Ka-po, yesterday said the complaint filed by the broadcaster on Thursday made five main allegations, including some against RTHK. Ip said TVB had been monopolising the talent pool by signing contracts with actors and singers barring them from making appearances in Hong Kong except with TVB. He said that even actors who had signed the 'one-show' annual contract, which guarantees an actor only one half-hour segment of television a year, could not appear on other television stations. Ip added that ATV even had to re-dub imported dramas it aired if they had been dubbed using TVB actors. ATV also suspected that TVB had been offering large discounts to advertising clients, discouraging them from placing adverts on ATV, Ip said. ATV accused public broadcaster RTHK of facilitating unfair competition by TVB against ATV. Ip said RTHK's popular public affairs programme Hong Kong Connection, which has a 30-year history, has never made any appearance on ATV, and RTHK had never explained why. Further, RTHK never let ATV be the first to broadcast its annual music awards show, because singers appearing on the show had contracts with TVB, he said. The Broadcasting Authority acknowledged that it had received ATV's complaint, and said it would be processed in accordance with the Broadcasting Authority Ordinance. TVB said it welcomed ATV filing complaints. A TVB spokesman hoped the authority's investigation would clear the air, saying TVB would co-operate with it. However, Tsang Sing-ming, TVB's deputy controller of external affairs, defended the dominant broadcaster, saying that contracts signed between artists and TVB were willingly agreed by both parties, and it was normal for TVB to lay down clauses protecting its interests. When it came to advertising, Tsang said, clients requested the best package. And if clients could not afford to place adverts on multiple channels, they might stick to the most effective channel. When asked about ATV's allegations, an RTHK spokesman said it had been in close contact with ATV to ensure that programmes of various genres could appear on ATV. The Broadcasting Ordinance prohibits anti-competitive conduct and abuse of dominance. Despite this, ATV's complaints might not hold up, said Dr Cheuk Pak-tong, head of Baptist University's cinema and television department. ATV should try to do a good job before accusing others, he said. 'It changes management every few years; its financial status is not healthy; its shareholders are fighting with each other. How can the staff feel secure and do a good job to produce quality programmes?' he said. Cheuk added that the government should listen to the public, and consider action against ATV's licensee status. 'If they can't do a good job, maybe they should give the licence to other, capable people,' he said. Samson Tam Wai-ho, chairman of the Legislative Council's information technology and broadcasting panel, said ATV would also be able to file complaints to the panel if the panel later felt that the Broadcasting Authority did not handle the complaint effectively.