Asia Television has floated a crowdfunding plan to sell some of a 10.75 per cent stake in the troubled broadcaster after major investor Wong Ching refused to accept the price offered by three potential "white knights" from Hong Kong and the mainland. The originator of the crowdfunding idea, socialite Alice Chiu Tsang Hok-wan, who worked for ATV predecessor Rediffusion Television, said she hoped Hongkongers could contribute HK$10,000 each to buy one share. The plan emerged after negotiations between Wong and the three bidders reached a deadlock. Derek Lai, managing partner for Deloitte China's southern region, who was appointed by a court to act as manager of the station and put the 10.75 per cent stake out to tender, declined to comment on whether Wong, who claimed that ATV owed him HK$2 billion, was making unreasonable demands for a high price. "I urge shareholders to be rational," Lai said. "We are running out of time." ATV's free-TV licence expires at the end of November and a 12-month notification of renewal is required. It was revealed in court that the Communications Authority did not recommend renewal and submitted its report to the Chief Executive in Council in November. But the council has yet to discuss the matter. Wong controls 52 per cent of ATV through his relative Wong Ben-koon. The court ruled that Wong Ching had interfered with the running of the station and had jeopardised its future. The court ruled that ATV had to sell a 10.75 per cent stake to break his control over the station. However, few were interested in acquiring just a 10.75 per cent stake, Lai admitted. He said the bidders, which had experience in media operations, were interested in Wong's entire controlling stake. Lai said bidders had submitted proposals but he refused to disclose their identities. Lai noted that Deloitte's consent would be needed if Wong was to sell his 52 per cent stake. "We are trying to keep the three bidders warm, though they know Wong isn't happy with the price offered. But for how much longer will they stay warm? I don't know," Lai said. ATV has very little money. It still owes staff their January salaries and must pay HK$10.2 million in outstanding licence fees. If ATV doesn't pay the first instalment by next Wednesday, the Communications Authority could activate procedures to revoke its licence. Alice Chiu expressed the hope that her plan could raise emergency funds for ATV. She said the target was to raise about HK$30 million, close to an estimate of HK$30 million to HK$40 million that executive director Ip Ka-po said should cover all outstanding wages and licence fees. "I believe many, many people will support this idea," said Chiu, adding that she was confident the plan could raise several million dollars. She said Deloitte had been informed of the plan and it had agreed that ATV could give it a try to see if the court would approve it, though legal experts said it could place ATV in a problematic legal situation. In another development, Ip said, "higher than expected" revenue from the sale of farmland the TV station owns in Chuen Long in Tsuen Wan could save the station for now. But he said the sum would be insufficient to pay wages and the licence fee.