ATV - Asia Television Limited
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Taiwanese snack tycoon moves to wind up ATV

Joyce Man

The troubled odyssey of Asia Television has taken another turn with an application to have the broadcaster's affairs wound up.

Norwares Overseas, a company based in the British Virgin Islands, filed the application in court on Tuesday to have the free-to-air broadcaster liquidated. Norwares is a shareholder in snack giant Want Want China Holdings, of which ATV shareholder Tsai Eng-meng is chairman.

Court documents said Norwares was wholly owned by Tsai, a Taiwanese tycoon. ATV has been in the spotlight in recent months, in court fights involving Tsai and a government investigation after the broadcaster mistakenly reported in July that former president Jiang Zemin had died.

Tsai's representatives could not be reached yesterday for an explanation of the winding-up application.

In its response ATV referred to convertible bonds which Tsai had sought to stop ATV from issuing by applying for an injunction. It said this was the basis for applying for the winding up order.

Tsai and ATV have been at loggerheads over the issue for more than a year. Tsai's company, San Want Media Holdings, filed a lawsuit last year alleging that ATV shareholders Payson Cha Mou-sing and his brother Johnson Cha Mou-daid had breached certain fiduciary duties.

In another lawsuit, Tsai asked for an injunction to stop the brothers from completing a deal with mainland property tycoon Wong Ching in breach of a letter of intent they had with Tsai.

In December, the parties in two of the disputes scheduled a meeting for Valentine's Day to pursue mediation. The result of that was unclear, but according to the website, one case is set for High Court hearings next April and May.

A new legal challenge for ATV emerged in April this year when one of its directors - Kevin Tsai Shao-chung, the son of Tsai Eng-meng - sought a court order to make the station and its top management surrender records and documents concerning operations that were being kept from its board of directors.

Last month the court ordered ATV to release the documents, although it agreed to delay the order for two weeks pending ATV's appeal. Eventually, restrictions were slapped on Kevin Tsai's use of the documents.

Also last month, former ATV news chief Leung Ka-wing said in a radio interview that he had been put under pressure by an unidentified source to broadcast the erroneous report of Jiang's death.