Hong Kong's ATV on the brink of collapse

Hong Kong's ATV on the brink of collapse

HONG KONG - Hong Kong's Asia Television, the oldest station in the greater China region, is on the brink of collapse.

The financially-troubled station, commonly known as ATV, is struggling to pay salaries and is under intense pressure before its broadcast license comes up for renewal in November. These troubles come amid a row over management control between two major shareholders.

ATV World, an English-language channel, in early January ended Newsline, a debate show that was on air for more than 30 years. Its host, Michael Chugani, said it was sad to see Hong Kong's longest-running TV show come to an end.

Launched in 1957, ATV was the first terrestrial TV broadcaster in Hong Kong. It long competed with local rival Television Broadcasts or TVB. The rise of cable TV has posed a challenge to ATV. A string of its management reshuffles since the late 1990s has led to budget cuts and the axing of in-house produced TV programs. As a result, ATV has seen a sharp drop in its viewership.

A bitter rivalry between two top shareholders has added to the chaos. Tsai Eng-meng, a media mogul and the founder of Taiwan-based Want Want China Holdings, bought a large chunk of ATV in 2009. He aimed to turn around the ailing TV station. But in 2010, Wong Ching, who made fortune from the property business in mainland China, acquired a majority stake in ATV and drove out Tsai's camp.

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