Asia Television

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ATV's Hong Kong free television program service license expiry
 Hong Kong – 1-4-2016
52Days To Go
Local Time
Asia Television Limited
Limited company
Industry Mass media
Predecessor Rediffusion Television
Founded 29 May 1957
Headquarters 25–31 Dai Shing Street,
Tai Po Industrial Estate,
Tai Po, Hong Kong
Key people
Ip Ka Po (Former Executive Director)
Products ATV Home, ATV World, ATV Asia
  • Wong Ben Koon (52%)
  • Antenna Investment (48%)
Number of employees
600 (2015)
Subsidiaries ATV Enterprises Ltd
ATV International Promotion Ltd Ltd
ATV Films Entertainment Ltd
ATV Music Ltd
Slogan New Life (2015)
Asia Television
Traditional Chinese 亞洲電視
Simplified Chinese 亚洲电视
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 亞視
Simplified Chinese 亚视

Asia Television Limited (Chinese: 亞洲電視有限公司, also known as ATV, stylised "aTV") is one of the two free-to-air television broadcasters in Hong Kong.

Launched on 29 May 1957 as Rediffusion Television (RTV), ATV is the first Chinese-language television station in the world, and the first television station in Hong Kong. RTV started free-to-air broadcasting on 30 November 1973 and was renamed as Asia Television on 24 September 1982.

Despite its relatively small market share, ATV has received numerous awards for its programmes. One of its successes was the local version of game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in 2001, which allowed ATV to enjoy a short-term upturn in its viewing figures.

However, ATV has seen a gradual decline in production quality and audience rating in recent years and faces financial difficulties. It was heavily fined for its false report of death of Jiang Zemin, which severely damaged its credibility.[2]

On 1 April 2015, Hong Kong's Executive Council gave ATV a one-year notice that its terrestrial television licence, which was due to expire on 30 November 2015, would not be renewed and that it would instead end on 1 April 2016. ATV Free-To-Air channels will be the first Analog-Digital Switchoff (ADSO).[3]


Early years[edit]

Rediffusion Television (RTV), the predecessor to ATV, began as a wired radio broadcasting service in 1949.[4] The original office was located on Arsenal Street and Hennessy Road. It launched its subscription-based TV service on 29 May 1957. In 1959, Rediffusion was moved to the offices that was occupied by Fortis Bank Tower.

In 1962, Typhoon Wanda passed over Hong Kong, resulting in hundreds of deaths. Following the passage of Wanda, Rediffusion broadcast the first-ever fund-raising special. The first televised artiste course broadcast was in 1966 under the title, "Ying Li's voice."

In October 1968, new shows were broadcast on Rediffusion, including variety, sports, and other leisure of interest that attracted more viewers. The most notable show at that time was "Master Q".

Rediffusion was given a free-to-air television broadcasting licence in 1973 by the Hong Kong Government, which had switched to using the wireless television. Rediffusion (later ATV) and TVB (launched on 19 November 1967) have since formed a duopoly in free-to-air terrestrial TV broadcasting in Hong Kong for more than 40 years, with Commercial Television joining the market briefly between 7 September 1975 to 22 August 1978.[5]

In 1976, the Hong Kong government introduced Mark Six, a new lottery system that was broadcast twice a week on Rediffusion. The first host of that show was Xia Chunqiu (夏春秋).

Development and ownership shift[edit]

In 1981, Rediffusion in the UK sold 61% of its shares in RTV to an Australian consortium. In July 1982, a Chinese enterprise called Far East Group (遠東機構), owned by the Chiu family, took a stake in the company, such that Far East Group and the Australian consortium each held 50% of RTV's shares. The move marked the first time that a Chinese enterprise had played a role in RTV. RTV was renamed "Asia Television" later in the same year.[6] The company that operated ATV frequently recorded losses, and in January 1984, following the withdrawal of the Australian enterprise, the Chiu family bought all of the shares.

In August 1987, the shares of ATV were put up for sale. One year later, Asia Television Limited, the Lim family (led by Lim Por-yen), and the New World Group each owned one-third of the shares. At that time, the members of board of directors included Deacon Chiu, Lim Por-yen, Fang Li and Cheng Yu-tung.

On 30 January 1989, the Chiu family sold its shares of ATV to New World Group and Lai Sun Group for HK$237.5 million. The New World Group held half of the shares, while the Lam family owned one-third and Lai Sun held one-sixth. At the same time, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM) joined as a minority shareholder. As announced by the board of directors, the new chairman was Cheng Yue-tung and the vice-chairman was Lim Por Yen. The Administrative Director was Selina Chow.

In November 2002, Lai Sun Development, which was heavily indebted following the HK$7 billion acquisition of the Furama Hotel at the height of the property bubble in 1997, announced that it would sell its 32.75% stake to the company's chief executive, Chan Wing-kee (陳永棋), for HK$360 million in cash.[7]

In June 2007, Chan, along with Liu Changle (劉長樂), chairman of Phoenix Satellite Television Holdings Limited, established a company that later bought most of ATV's shares. Afterwards, Chan Wing-kei took the post of Administrative Director General. With the change of shareholder, there was innovation in the direction of production, marketing strategy, and human resources. One of the significant changes is the increasing purchase of foreign programmes, such as the South Korean Drama Autumn in My Heart.

In December 2008, City Telecom chairman Ricky Wong Wai Kay was assigned as new the chief executive while former PCCW deputy chairman Linus Cheung Wing-lam became executive chairman.[8] After just 2 weeks Ricky Wong resigned from his position due to many factors.[9] In early 2009, Taiwanese billionaire Tsai Eng-Meng signed a preliminary agreement to become a key shareholder of Alnery, a company that controls 47.58% of ATV.[10] Tsai has agreed to inject HK$1 billion in the form of convertible bonds.[11] Tsai and Payson Cha have since debated over control of the station.[12]


ATV's major competitor is Television Broadcasts Limited, the other terrestrial television station in Hong Kong. TVB is regarded as the driving force behind ATV's decision to transform its Pay TV operation to terrestrial TV broadcasting. For many years, TVB has been the predominant ratings leader in Hong Kong, its programmes often capturing 90–95% of viewing audience. In the last round, ATV had its licence renewed in December 2004 for another 12 years. Under the new terms of the licence, the Broadcasting Authority required that ATV World provide bilingual subtitles on news, weather and current affairs shows, educational shows, and public service announcements. The company was also required to provide more cultural and arts shows. In its final years, viewing figures for ATV Home had fallen sharply, as the TV station has begun to cater more to the interests of the mainland Chinese audience, who can now legally receive the channel. In the Pearl River Delta area of China, ATV used to enjoy a 70% ratings share in the late 90s, largely due to rebroadcasting rights. The ratings share has since reduced to 2–3%. The shift resulted in Hong Kong viewers complaining that programmes aired on the channel are "old-fashioned" and not in tune with the preferences of the Hong Kong TV audience.

In 2010, Chinese property businessman Wang Zheng became known as ATV's "major shareholder" and began to exercise actual control over the board of directors when his relative-in-law Wong Ben Koon, who is a Hong Kong resident, purchased 52% of ATV's shares from Cha's brothers and other shareholders, although Wang himself was not a member of the board.[13] This is believed by observers to bypass Hong Kong's broadcasting regulations, which forbid non-Hong Kong residents to own and control local television stations.[14] Stating his plan to shape ATV into "Asia's CNN" and "Hong Kong's conscience",[15] Wang replaced the production of television drama series with talk shows, which contributed to further loss of ATV's audience and advertisers.[14] On 6 July 2011, ATV News falsely reported the death of Jiang Zemin, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. Wang Zheng, at that time rumoured to be a distant relative of Jiang, was believed to be the source. The Communications Authority fined ATV for HK$300,000 for the false news report, and later another HK$1 million after concluding Wang Zheng had been unlawfully interfering with ATV's management. Wang's cousin James Shing Pan-yu was forced to quit his role as executive director.[14] ATV was under heavy bombardment from the community for several times, when its ATV Focus smeared anti-Moral and National Education pupils and when it broadcast a live show of Wang leading a group of artists dancing in front of the Central Government Offices to call for the government not to issue new free-to-air licences.[14]

On 19 June 2013, Hop Chung Tourist Car Company – a long-time transport contractor of the station – filed a lawsuit asking the High Court to wind up ATV over unpaid bills totalling HK$900,000. ATV executive director James Shing denied the station was experiencing financial problems.[16]

In 2014, the court rule in Tsai's favour that Wang Zheng was responsible for ATV's business failure and appointed Deloitte to seek a white knight to take over Wong Ben-koon's controlling shares.[14]

The company was in breach of employment regulations in mid 2014 as it had failed to pay wages to its employees.[17] At the end of December 2014, the company said it would shortly pay half the back wages of its staff for the month of November.[18] By early January, the company was still owing the balance of salaries outstanding since November, and there have been a number of terminations and redundancies as a result of the operating difficulties. ATV and its executive director Ip Ka-po received 34 prosecution notices from the Labour Department concerning unpaid wages for July to September.[17] In late January 2015, the company, still facing liquidity issues, controversially advanced the outstanding salaries for December on condition that employees signed a loan agreement with the company belonging to the major shareholder, Wong Ben-koon.[19][20][21]

On 1 April 2015, Hong Kong's Executive Council announced that it would not be extending Asia Television's free-to-air licence[20] and their spot will be taken over by Hong Kong Television Entertainment.

On 1 April 2016, Asia Television will be the first TV broadcaster in Hong Kong to end its Analogue broadcasts by closing down the stations. Its digital TV simulcasts will also be shut down at the same time.


On 21 July 2007, ATV left its long-time home at 81 Broadcast Drive in Kowloon Tong and moved into a new facility in Tai Po. The original home was demolished in 2008–2009 and is now a residential development, called Meridian Hill.

The Tai Po production facilities cover 550,000 square feet (51,000 m2) and is three times larger than the old facilities on Broadcast Drive. The Tai Po facilities have four news studios, eight variety show and drama studios and a range of digital broadcasting facilities. The largest studio covers 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2).[22] The new HQ is the former site of the Lee Kum Kee's Hong Kong headquarters and factory operations in Hong Kong.

News operation[edit]

ATV News vehicle
Main article: ATV News

ATV News is the news gathering arm of ATV. It produces daily newscasts in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English, which are seen on its Home, World, and News & Business Channels. Additional foreign news coverage is provided by CNN and CBS. The station has long been recognised as pro-Beijing.[8]


ATV broadcasts a range of television programmes, including news, infotainment, drama, and variety shows. In addition to producing its own shows, ATV has acquired popular TV programmes from overseas markets to cater to changing audience tastes. Of note, ATV has bought in popular TV dramas from South Korea and Mainland China for broadcast in prime time.


ATV operates six channels: the 24-hour ATV Home channel in Cantonese; the 24-hour ATV World channel in English; the 24-hour Cantonese satellite channel ATV Home (America), which is accessible in North America via satellite, and three digital DMB-T/H channels: ATV Asia, a 24-hour high-definition channel; CCTV-1, the general channel of China Central Television, China.

Prior to 1 April 2009, the following DMB-T/H channels were in operation: News & Business, a 24-hour news and finance news channel; His TV, a 24-hour sports and infotainment channel aimed at men; Her TV, a 24-hour lifestyle infotainment channel aimed at women; Plus TV, a 24-hour documentary channel; and HDTV, a 24-hour high-definition channel.

Programmes on ATV Home[edit]

ATV has produced numerous classic TV dramas, including Crocodile Tears (鱷魚淚), My Date with a Vampire, Fatherland (大地恩情), Vampire Hero (殭屍英雄), The Legend, My Date with a Vampire 2, The Legendary Fok (霍元甲), My Date with a Vampire 3, Central Affairs I and II (情陷夜中環), Vampire Expert II (殭屍道長II) and Reincarnated (天蠶變). Productions of note in 1990s include The Pride of Chaozhou (我來自潮州), Who is the Winner? (勝者為王), Who is the Winner?! 2: King of Green Bat, King of the Gambler (千王之王重出江湖), and The Good Old Days (再見艷陽天).

In recent years, ATV has created and hosted certain large-scale award shows. The most well-known would probably be The Annual Most Popular TV Commercial Awards (十大電視廣告頒獎禮).

Other infotainment programmes like Stories From Afar (尋找他鄉的故事) ranked highly in the Appreciation Index Survey Best Television Awards (香港電視節目欣賞指數), as reflected by a public review.

Some ATV programmes, such as the entertainment news show Hong Kong Today (今日睇真D) and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? (百萬富翁), have proved particularly popular, prompting local rival TVB to offer similar fare.

Asia Television used to air the British Science Fiction Programme Doctor Who and were responsible for returning one of their copies to the BBC, when BBC Enterprises wiped many Doctor Who serials in the 1970s. The Tomb of the Cybermen returned in late 1991.

Programmes on ATV World[edit]

ATV World is one of two English-language channels that broadcast in Hong Kong. It offers a variety of programmes, mostly from the United States, ranging from popular serial dramas and films to documentaries and educational shows. Among the shows it has aired are Ally McBeal (甜心俏佳人), Survivor (生還者), Smallville (超人外傳), CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (滅罪鑑證科), Elizabeth I (伊利沙伯一世傳奇), CSI: Miami (鑑證行動組), Cold Case (鐵證懸案), CSI: NY (鑑證紐約), Grey's Anatomy (醫人當自強), The Closer (真相追擊), Doctor Who (異世奇人), and Ghost Whisperer (靈感應). ATV stopped carrying the talk show Late Show with David Letterman (大衛牙擦騷) as of 1 January 2009, but there has been a grass-roots movement to bring it back. Arts and sports programming are also offered (e.g. local horse racing, in Chinese 賽馬直擊). Mandarin and Korean programmes are available on ATV World at off-peak hours.

ATV World's flagship English news programme is Main News and Weather Report at 7:30, provided under the collective effort of ATV News.

Given its focus on English-language programming in a predominantly Cantonese-speaking market, ATV World carries relatively little advertising and is subsidised by ATV Home. Both free-to-air television companies in Hong Kong are required by the government to provide an English-language service. In the face of competition from TVB Pearl, ATV World has, in recent years, switched focus from dramas and movies to documentaries and natural history shows, likely because such programming is less expensive to acquire. Although movies formerly aired on Saturdays, movies acquired by ATV are generally aired on Monday nights, leading to the The Late News programme.


ATV Training Institute[edit]

Asia Television Training Institute was founded to train people who are interested in joining the television industry. There are four faculties including television production, television artwork, television talent and technical production. Some of the graduates are offered work at ATV.

Actor station-hopping[edit]

Both TVB and ATV use a contract artist system, in which the station acts as both employer and booking agent. Artistes are signed to contracts which mean that they can only appear in that station's programmes; the artistes are kept on a basic wage with additional fees paid on a per episode or per appearance basis. Acting as an artiste's booking agent, the station will also have a veto in what personal appearances, endorsements and advertisements an artiste may take, demanding a cut of all fees. Artistes will also be pushed to take jobs favoured by the station, with artistes who rebel and refuse being put on "ice" in the "freezer", being forced to see out their contract at the basic wage, but not being used in any of station's programmes and forbidden from any other work. Being put on ice effectively ends an artiste's career until the contract is seen out. At TVB fame, being in the public eye and outward glamour does not often translate into riches. However, given TVB's preeminent position, many artistes hope to use TVB to gain popularity and celebrity status, which can be parlayed into a movie career, television career in mainland China, or at the least a higher basic wage from the station. In TVB this has led to factions and cliques, in which artistes, directors and producers cluster around individual senior management, trading favours and sycophancy for patronage.

TVB is known to typecast their performers, with some always given lead roles and others always given supporting roles. As such, actors have left TVB for ATV in hopes of better opportunities, although in most cases the change of station will mean a virtual end of an actor's career. The majority of the leading roles are actually given to veteran TVB actors. While some veteran TVB actors merely switch sides because their contract ended, some joined because they are offered better compensation and positions to veteran TVB actors. There were several known incidents where TVB had certain dramas planned and were forced to cancel or rewrite scripts because the star(s) of the role left for other opportunities and vice versa. While TVB has also acquired ATV actors, the cross over is higher in frequency with TVB actors to ATV.

With the disbandment of ATV's in house drama department and the stations retreat from making its own dramas, there was no longer any work for its actors and most have since found alternative employment.

Past ATV personalities[edit]


Controversy and bias[edit]

News programmes broadcast by ATV are deemed by some observers to have taken on a pro-Beijing bias, reporting news involving pro-democracy political forces in Hong Kong in a negative light. (A short talk show on current affairs that airs after the six o'clock news frequently invites pro-Beijing advocates to air their views, often praising the PRC's policies and criticising pro-democratic parties, especially when these parties invoke a demonstration. There have since been other pro-democratic guests, but this does not balance out the pro-Beijing bias). TVB's news programming has been similarly criticised for its "pro-establishment" stance. Although the Hong Kong media has freedom of speech, self-censorship is commonly practised at media organisations whose owners have business interests in mainland China. A shift in ownership of ATV in mid-2006 sparked concern that ATV would become even more pro-Beijing.

For example, the pro-democracy 1 July marches usually make the headline news on TVB, but ATV usually makes the pro-Beijing counter protests the headline news. ATV also attempts to dilute the pro-democracy message of the marches by saying the participants have different messages.

In September 2012, there was outrage after ATV broadcast a news article claiming that opponents of Hong Kong's pro-CCP "National Education" classes for students were "destructive forces" which were backed by London and Washington and seek to "destroy Hong Kong by all possible means". Members of the student advocacy group Scholarism were labelled as "naive teenagers" who have allowed themselves to be "exploited by politicians" and are ruining their own futures by "playing with politics".[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chow, Vivienne; Lai, Ying-kit (7 January 2015). "ATV shareholder says only a fool would invest more in station". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Chow, Vivienne; Nip, Amy; Cheung, Tony (1 April 2015). "Exco troubled broadcaster ATV's application to renew free-to-air licence". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  3. ^ Zheng, Anjie; Steger, Isabella (1 April 2015). "Hong Kong's Oldest TV Station, ATV, to shut down". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  4. ^ Kitley, Philip. [2003] (2003). Television, Regulation and Civil Society in Asia. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-29733-8
  5. ^ Yu, Sophie (5 November 2010). "New entrants will test TVB, ATV duopoly". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  6. ^ ATV 46th Anniversary Retrospective (2003), p.34
  7. ^ Dennis Eng, "A little less debt for ailing Lai Sun", The Standard, 18 November 2002
  8. ^ a b The Standard HK. "Survival Drama. The Standard. Retrieved 7 December 2008.
  9. ^ South China Morning Post. "SCMP." Outspoken, and out of a job. Retrieved on 24 December 2008.
  10. ^ "" Tsai Eng-meng funds HK station. Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  11. ^ The Standard HK. "[Friend of ATV chief helped fix $1b deal The]." Article. Retrieved on 2 February 2009.
  12. ^ The Standard (HK). ""Cha accused as ATV spat flares up in public". Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  13. ^ Chow, Vivienne (16 March 2010). "ATV seeks shareholding change". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  14. ^ a b c d e Chow, Vivienne (29 March 2015). "Wong Ching, the leading man in ATV's sorry drama". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  15. ^ Chow, Vivienne (5 November 2010). "Tycoon unveils push to make ATV Asia's CNN – and city's conscience". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  16. ^ "Coach firm chases ATV over unpaid bills". The Standard. 20 June 2013. 
  17. ^ a b "The Failed and Unpaid Wages Between July and September". Sina Corp. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Unpaid ATV staff offered loans by top shareholder". EJ Insight. 
  20. ^ a b Anjie Zheng and Isabella Steger (1 April 2015). "Hong Kong's Oldest TV Station, ATV, to Shut Down". The Wall Street Journal. 
  21. ^ 段亚英. "Hong Kong refuses renewal of Asia Television licence". 
  22. ^ "ATV greets the future as it celebrates the past". 
  23. ^ "Hong Kong's ATV: London and. Washington behind anti-National Education protests". Shanghaiist. 

External links[edit]