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A Hong Kong court Thursday ruled that liquidators can close Asia Television (ATV), the beleaguered TV broadcaster, with immediate effect.

Earlier in the week accountancy firm Deloitte, the court-appointed provisional liquidator, said that it would dismiss the broadcaster’s entire staff. But new investor Si Rongbin said he would provide enough new finance to keep the company’s channels on air until the end of March.

Si approached the court asking Deloitte to hold off from firing the staff. The court gave him until today (Thursday March 3) to strike a deal with Deloitte.

The court was told that no deal has been offered in writing. And the judge ruled that the liquidator should no longer be halted from doing its job.

ATV has been in financial difficulties for several years. Last year it was last given notice by the Hong Kong government that it would lose its broadcast license with effect from April 1, 2016.

Since then matters have become worse. It has been repeatedly fined by the government for infractions including late payment of its license fee and failure to pay its staff on time. Last month the Communications Authority ruled that ATV’s failure to provide its contracted news bulletins – a result of walkouts by unpaid staff – would result in the suspension of its license. The court heard that ATV has debts of some $45 million (HK$350 million).

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