Hong Kong judge appoints Deloitte as provisional liquidator for beleaguered ATV
Move comes as major creditor, Wong Ching, seeks broadcaster’s liquidation; judge denies appointment of Deloitte will prevent investor Si Rongbin from saving ATV
Beleaguered broadcaster Asia Television is now in the hands of professional managers after the High Court on Wednesday appointed accounting firm Deloitte as a provisional liquidator to facilitate the station's restructuring.
The appointment came two days after the city's media watchdog decided to begin steps that may result in a 30-day suspension of the troubled company's licence.
Meanwhile, the cash-strapped station's woes continue to swell, as its new investor, Si Rongbin, faces legal claims of HK$15 million from Hong Kong-listed company China Innovation Investment over an alleged unfulfilled agreement.
The latest court case was brought by major ATV creditor Wong Ching, who is seeking the liquidation of the broadcaster.
Before appointing the provisional liquidator, High Court judge Mr Justice Jonathan Harris noted that ATV was in a mess.
"ATV doesn't have a functioning board ... It is unable to sign any major agreements," said Harris.
"It's in everybody's interest to appoint a provisional liquidator to restructure ATV," he said, adding that he was not suggesting the professional managers would close down the station's operation.
Harris noted the company required professional management, even though it was uncertain whether the station would halt broadcasts soon.
The Communications Authority said on Monday it might impose sanctions under the Broadcasting Ordinance against ATV, after the station failed to transmit newscasts, pay fees and penalties and comply with residence requirements for board members.
Mo Yee-tak, who represented Si, said the mainlander had pledged to continue supporting ATV.
"Wong should be held responsible for ATV's mess," Mo told the court.
Mo said Si's efforts to save the TV station would be undermined if the company was taken over by provisional liquidators.
But Harris played down his concerns and said: "Nothing here today would stop Si from saving ATV."
Outside court, Mo said Si had secured enough money for ATV's future development, stressing that the media company would continue to operate on the internet after its TV licence expired.