Mystery investor in talks to save off-air Hong Kong broadcaster ATV
High Court adjourns hearing on winding up station after revelation by major creditor Wong Ching
An investor has plans to extend a lifeline to debt-ridden and basically defunct broadcaster Asia Television, the High Court heard on Wednesday.
ATV’s former boss Wong Ching, who had filed a petition to wind up the company to recoup his losses, told the court he was in discussions with an unnamed potential investor.
The hearing on the petition was adjourned until next Monday pending further discussion among the parties.
Wong, who did not attend the hearing, said through his lawyer that the new investor’s proposal included plans to pay ATV’s former staff their owed salaries, and that the deal had the support of some of the company’s creditors.
But representatives of former ATV staff, who also took part in the petition, questioned whether they would actually be paid.
ATV, the city’s oldest television station, went off the air on April 1 as its free-to-air licence expired, after years of financial and managerial turmoil.
Whether ATV, deprived of its licence, can continue to operate in another form remains unknown. At issue is whether Wong will withdraw his liquidation petition against the company in the High Court.
59 years in the making: how Hong Kong’s Asia Television went from a pioneering broadcaster to final death
Mainland investor Si Rongbin’s China Culture Media, to whom Wong had sold the controlling stake in the former terrestrial broadcaster, refused to call it quits and pledged to keep ATV’s brand name alive through satellite and internet transmission services.
On Wednesday, Jan He, representing Si, said they had put in place HK$50 million for wages owed to former ATV staff.
The Labour Department said earlier that around 400 former ATV staff had applied for compensation through the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund, a safety net for employees affected by business closures.