The below article came out over the weekend, on the tail end of news reports from last week that ATV was in dire straits financially and couldn't pay its artists (none of their employees have been paid their September salary).
The news about ATV finally being sold probably is no surprise to those who have been following the licensing saga for a while. It's no secret that ATV hasn't been doing well...it was just a matter of time before something like this happened.
On the surface, it might sound like a bad thing that ATV is being sold, but looks like there might be some positives coming out of the deal: 1) at least their employees will get paid now, as ATV's current chairman Ip Kar Bo said that once the final sale is completed, they will have enough money to pay all staff; and 2) the station's 56 year history might not need to go up in flames, as there's a chance that the brand new owner might be able to inject some life back into the station (though only time will tell whether that happens or not).
The part I find 'suspect' is the timing -- with the decision whether to renew TVB and ATV's free-tv licenses to be made (by the government) before the end of the year, it's interesting that ATV would decide to sell now. In a way, I sort of see it as part of their strategy to get their license renewed (especially since they failed miserably in the "financial viability" category when the renewal analyses were conducted).
Anyway...whether this is good news or bad news, only time will tell. I'm happy that at least the employees are getting paid, but if the company is going to continue on as the "shell" of the company that it has been the past decade or so, I would much rather it just fold and put all of us out of our misery....
ATV close to financing deal with 'well-known figure', sources say
Source: South China Morning Post
Article originally published October 11, 2014
Cash-strapped ATV is on track to reach a financing deal with a consortium led by "a well-known figure" in as soon as two days, according to staff at the free-to-air broadcaster.
The turn of events comes shortly before the Communications Authority is to rule on ATV's suitability for a renewed broadcasting licence, and after it failed to pay its staff of nearly 1,000 their latest monthly salaries.
Under the Employment Ordinance, an employer must pay wages no later than seven days after the end of the wage period, in this case meaning October 7 at the latest.
The South China Morning Post has learned that ATV could announce its new financial plan on Monday at the earliest.
"There are still some final touches to be made to the deal," a source from the station said.
Also yesterday, ATV executive director Ip Ka-po said at a company meeting that shareholdings of the station could be transferred "fairly quickly", according to staff members.
"The shareholdings stand a high chance of changing hands," Ip reportedly told employees. He was cited as saying the wages owed could be paid as soon as a deal was reached.
On Tuesday, the station told staff that shareholders had been in talks with potential buyers and would settle the pay issue once transactions were completed.
Another source familiar with the talks said a consortium was likely to come to the rescue.
It would probably be a loan deal, possibly involving convertible bonds instead of an acquisition, he added. "I have heard that the other party has not made the final decision … The details are not fixed yet," he said.
The identity of the new investor remains unclear. Ip refused to say if the person was a local or a mainlander, according to staff. An ATV spokesman would say only that the person was "a well-known figure".
Ip, who had been organising staff lunches in the past fortnight, seemed to have stepped back from an earlier revelation that an entertainment tycoon was the new investor, according to staff.
He could not be reached for comment.
Prior to the financial stalemate, ATV's key investor was Wong Ching, who started pouring money into the struggling station in 2010.
Meanwhile, the authority said it had not received any applications to change ATV's shareholdings - a requirement under the law.
The licences of both of the city's free-to-air broadcasters - TVB and ATV - are due to expire next year. The authority will submit its recommendations to the Executive Council by the end of next month.