ATV may not yet be at the end of the road, with influential supporters who do not want to see TVB monopolise Hong Kong's free-to-air television seeking a lifeline for the ailing station. Despite the tone of finality in Wednesday's announcement that the Executive Council would not renew ATV's licence when it expires in November, sources yesterday told the South China Morning Post there was still a chance the broadcaster could survive in some form. That could even involve a total rebrand, given the severe damage to its reputation in the past few years. The decision was in compliance with procedures and laws. It is … reasonable COMMERCE MINISTER GREG SO Officially, ATV will be allowed to broadcast until April 1 next year. But whether it lasts that long is in serious doubt, given that shareholders - old or new - have no incentive to put funds into the loss-making station. But two sources with links to the mainland and Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong said there could still be potential saviours, such as the family of late tycoon and former ATV boss Deacon Chiu Te-ken. READ MORE - The last broadcast: ATV staff prepare for life when troubled station goes off air Last month, the sources said, it was assumed that Chiu's son, David, would buy the 52.4 per cent stake in ATV held by de facto boss Wong Ching through his relative, Wong Ben-koon. But the potential deal with David Chiu's Far East Consortium International, like others before it, blew up when Wong Ching "went rogue" and pushed for a "ridiculously high" price, sources said. Wong Ching's bungling, including a false claim in ATV's evening news on Tuesday that HKTV boss Ricky Wong Wai-kay would buy the stake, has apparently upset the businessman's former backers in Beijing. But, the sources said, those backers did not feel ATV and its staff should pay for his blunders. The idea now, one source said, was that a "white knight" could step in and keep the 600-700 employees in work, turn the station around and make a strong bid when the government reallocated its free-to-air licence. David Chiu's company could not be reached for comment. But Chiu said recently that his father, who died last month, had spoken of making a personal donation to help ATV staff who went without pay at Christmas. He did not go ahead due to possible legal implications, David Chiu said. ATV executive director Ip Ka-po yesterday appealed to Exco to reconsider its decision if the station found a buyer with a sustainable business plan. But commerce minister Greg So Kam-leung, whose remit includes broadcasting, said Exco's decision was final and there was no right of appeal. Responding to Ip's plea, So said the government had given ATV enough time to state its case and provide a reasonable restructuring plan. "To any challenges, our best answer is that the decision was in compliance with procedures and laws," So said. "It is a reasonable decision." So also dismissed concerns that it would be impossible for government-owned RTHK to step in and provide analogue broadcasts should ATV go off-air or have its licence revoked for continuing to breach broadcasting laws before April 1 next year. An ATV board meeting last night on ways to secure more funding ended with no new announcements. Speaking before the meeting, Ip said the firm had not finalised its plans for its remaining days. "There are many hurdles to overcome," he said, adding that factors such as whether to cooperate with other broadcasters or air their programmes in certain timeslots were up for discussion. The station is selling assets including non-essential equipment and its programmes. But there was a crumb of comfort for ATV staff yesterday: their March salaries were paid.