ATV - Asia Television Limited

ATV shareholder says only a fool would invest more in station

Snack tycoon refuses to invest more cash in what he believes is a doomed broadcaster

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 January, 2015, 4:34am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 January, 2015, 4:34am

A major ATV shareholder says he would rather donate to charity than pump any more cash into the free-to-air broadcaster, rejecting a management call to inject fresh funds so that staff could be paid.

Taiwanese snack tycoon Tsai Eng-meng reiterated his tough stance on the station in a recent media interview, saying that if he were to loan ATV another HK$10 million to HK$20 million to pay wages, he might not get anything back.

"What if ATV is wound up after I invest more money?" he asked. "Only a fool would do that."

Tsai, together with brothers Payson Cha Mou-sing and Johnson Cha Mou-daid, control 48 per cent of the struggling station.

ATV executive director Ip Ka-po, who had earlier urged Tsai to consider putting in more money, yesterday promised ATV's 700-plus staff the remaining half of their November pay by today after more advertisers paid up.

But Ip said he could not say when their December salaries, which are due to be paid today, would be issued.

Tsai said "it hurts" when he hears bad news about ATV because it makes him ask himself: "Why was I such a fool?"

He accused another major investor, mainland businessman Wong Ching, and his allies of "messing things up" at ATV.

Tsai said he felt sorry for staff, but he had no choice. "Put yourself in my shoes … There is no way to resolve this."

He was not optimistic a saviour for ATV could be found, he said, but if such a person did eventually appear, he hoped Wong Ching and his relative, Wong Ben-koon, would sell their 52 per cent stake and leave.

"But this person must have the capability to run a television station," Tsai said. "Being rich is not enough."

Ip, meanwhile, remained upbeat, saying the station was exhausting every means to secure new funds.

A new deal had brought long-lost clients back to place commercials, Ip said. The deal reportedly involves a 30-second ad for HK$300 per screening. The station was also looking to sell unused equipment and its licences for copyrighted materials.