Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NEWS ARTICLES: ATV's financial issues + HKTV update

Here are two articles that came out yesterday and today....

The first one is about ATV's recent move to liquidate its assets due to the Cha brothers (former ATV executives) filing a motion against them in court. This is actually a pretty big blow to ATV, as they have been struggling financially for many years already -- the inept management at ATV dug themselves into such a big hole the past decade or so that there is pretty much nothing they can do to turn things around at this point, no matter how hard they try.  It will be very interesting to see how this most recent legal issue plays out, since ATV is up for license renewal come 2015 (the government actually needs to make the decision way before then though, probably some time around the end of the year) will be very hard for ATV to argue financial solvency (which is one of the 'criteria' for license renewal) given the Cha brothers' recent motion.

The second article is about HKTV and their chairman Ricky Wong's latest 'direction' after all the setbacks they've encountered related to the licensing issue.  I know that alot of people 'hate' Ricky Wong and probably are very happy seeing him fail -- as I've said many times before, I honestly don't give a care what kind of person Ricky Wong is and why people hate him so much...what I care most about is the fate of HKTV and what will happen to all the artists and behind-the-scenes people who are / were employed by the station.  Over the past few years, I've already relayed in detail my sentiments toward HKTV and this whole licensing issue through the articles / comments in my blog as well as in other discussion forums, so I have no intention of rehashing everything right now.  All I'm going to say is that I wish HKTV and its staff the best of luck and hope that things will eventually work out for them in the future (though of course I still feel that Ricky Wong should give up on the HK market and try his chances elsewhere).  

Anyway, I will continue to follow the 'television wars' revolving around TVB, ATV, HKTV, and the cable channels as well as the licensing issue as I have been doing in the past.  Of course, no guarantees that I'll always have the latest articles about the issue posted up, since there are so many news sources out there and it's impossible to cover all grounds -- but I'll try to at least get some info up whenever I can.


Article 1 -- originally published on April 23, 2014

Payson Cha and brother apply for court order to wind up ATV over debt

Source:  SCMP

Two former ATV directors yesterday filed an application with the High Court to wind up the television network.

Hong Kong brothers Payson Cha Mou-sing and Johnson Cha Mou-daid took the action after ATV failed to repay a loan of HK$200 million owing since August 2008 and accumulated interest of about HK$91 million.

The Cha brothers acquired the HK$200 million loan - which was in the form of a convertible bond - when they invested in the television station in 2007.

The bond matured in March this year and repayment of the loan has been due since then.

The Cha brothers said in a statement that they had served a statutory demand on ATV seeking repayment of the loan on March 27, but the station had failed to pay back any of the loan or interest owing.

The Cha brothers also said they had offered to consider extending the time given to repay the loan, with conditions attached, but ATV had not responded with any "serious proposal".

They also intend to launch proceedings against Wong Ching, the mainland tycoon also known as Wang Zheng, who bought the Cha brothers' shares in ATV in 2010.

Wang gave the Chas a guarantee that ATV would repay the loan, and if it did not he promised to purchase the loan at face value, according to the Chas.

The Chas said they were hopeful that ATV and Wong would honour their obligations to repay the loan and that this would allow ATV to "regroup and move forward".

ATV issued a statement in response to yesterday's application, saying that the Cha brothers had bought the loan in the form of convertible bonds from a bank for HK$40 million many years ago and that it was "a problem left over by history".

The station expressed regret over the legal action taken by the Chas and said it hoped they would terminate proceedings and return to the negotiating table to settle the dispute.


Article 2 -- originally published on April 24, 2014

HKTV boss Ricky Wong Wai-kay planning mobile-TV shopping channel

Source:  SCMP

A virtual shopping mall offering products from 200 to 300 outlets is the latest angle being pursued by Ricky Wong Wai-kay to achieve his mobile television dream, which has stalled due to legal complications.

The chairman of Hong Kong Television Network said the company plans to roll out a 24-hour shopping channel, offering an alternative for shoppers weary of crowds and chain stores.

"There is such a business opportunity in Hong Kong … there aren't any large-scale virtual shopping platforms offering a wide range of products that are of guaranteed quality," Wong said, adding that he rejected the belief that shopping through television or the internet was doomed to fail in a city that markets itself as a shoppers' paradise.

Should his wider plan to launch a mobile television service move forward, Wong said he plans to run as many as five channels, including one in Cantonese, a news channel and the 24-hour shopping channel.

The Broadcasting Ordinance states that free television stations cannot devote more than 10 minutes of each hour to advertising between 5pm and 11pm, while advertising time outside of that period cannot exceed 18 per cent of the total broadcast time.

But mobile television is not subject to these advertising restrictions. "We can run a 24-hour shopping channel.
It's something that neither TVB nor ATV could do," Wong said.

Two weeks ago, HKTV applied for a free-to-air television licence again, with a total projected investment of HK$3.4 billion over six years - six times more than the investment outlined in its original application from four years ago. The number of planned channels has been scaled back from 12 to three.

Wong rejected suggestions that the increased investment was to address problems with the original application that was rejected by the government in October. "We still don't know why we failed," he said, adding that the 24-hour mobile-television shopping channel would not affect the latest free-to-air licence application.

Wong also denied rumours of a future tie-up between HKTV and ATV.

Wong said shops in the city have become homogenised, largely due to high rents, and increasingly cater to mainland shoppers. Busy Hongkongers were looking for an online solution. "When people shop, they are looking for a delightful experience. But is shopping at malls still pleasant?" he asked.

Wong said he has been in talks with a number of retailers, and that the service planned to focus on selling "middle- to upper-class goods" rather than fastselling items such as shampoo and toilet paper.

Whether the project stands a chance depends on the judicial review that HKTV filed on April 11. The company asked the court to clarify the definition of mobile television in light of its disputes with the Office of the Communications Authority.

Ofca had warned that HKTV could breach the Broadcasting Ordinance if its mobile-television signal could be received by ordinary televisions. HKTV argued that mobile-television licences are issued under the Telecommunications Ordinance, not the Broadcasting Ordinance.

HKTV also asked Ofca to clarify if it would approve the mobile licence bid if HKTV used a different transmission standard to the one used by ATV and TVB. Ofca said it would not make such a clarification while the judicial review is taking place.

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