Tuesday, November 7, 2017

NEWS update: ATV to make a comeback in 2018

It has been more than a year since ATV lost their free-to-air TV license and officially closed up shop.  From the moment they closed, there were already rumors that they would “come back” some day – one rumor was that they were going to submit an application for a license again while another was that they were going to “change format” and return in a different capacity.   Up until this point, there was never much merit to the rumors, especially since majority of what was being told to the public was coming from the mouth of ATV’s former chairman Nick Ip Kar Bo (who already proved himself to be a weak puppy through his constant regurgitation of whatever ridiculous assertions that ATV’s higher ups at the time had him relay).  Even up until last week, when Nick Ip attended an event for Creation TV (the Christian television channel that he has officially joined as chairman), he was still talking about the possibility of ATV returning.  While I still don’t give Nick Ip’s words much merit (since he has a bad reputation in my book), there is actually some truth to the rumors this time in that there is now official confirmation that ATV is returning, albeit Nick Ip isn’t really involved.

I had actually read about ATV possibly making a comeback in a few news articles last week, but at the time, didn’t have the details.  Now I have more info so I wanted to get this blog post out there to share it.   The latest issue of Mingpao Weekly magazine (published this past weekend) had an article that spells out some of the details, including an interview with the person who will be the new ATV chairman.

My two cents:  Personally, I’m not sure how well ATV will fare coming back as a web channel given all the competition in this arena as of late (in addition to TVB, who officially entered the web channel arena last year with myTV Super, there’s also ViuTV, which has their own web streaming platform, and also “outsiders” such as Fox Asia and Netflix, plus the plethora of production companies that have been making web series and putting them on various streaming platforms such as Youtube).  To me, if ATV wants to make a successful comeback, the first thing they need to do is change their name….keeping the same name will conjure up memories of the old ATV and with the horribly damaged reputation that station had, it will be harder for HK audiences to accept them without blemish.  For right now, I’m going to take a “wait and see” approach, as there hasn’t been a whole lot revealed yet in terms of artists and also programming / content – both of which we all know are critical to success.  Since the “launch” is tentatively scheduled for some time in January, I’m pretty sure we will hear more details come out in the next two months.


Below is the article along with a brief summary of the main points from the original article (note that this is NOT a direct translation – it is basically me pulling out the main points from the article and summarizing them here).

Source:  Mingpao Weekly magazine, Issue #2556
(published November 4, 2017)

Main highlights:

-          ATV will be officially returning to TV screens in January 2018.  They will be returning as a web channel that can be accessed via Internet platform as well as mobile devices (via a specially designed app).  TV audiences can access their channel via a set-top box, but with a paid subscription (which is essentially the exact same OTT – Over the Top – method that TVB’s myTV Super utilizes currently). 

-          The new chairman of ATV will be Ng Yu (吳雨), who retired from his executive-level position at EEG last year.  As most people may already know, Ng Yu also used to be one of the top executives at TVB (back in the 80s and 90s) and has many years of experience in media management, so in a way, he’s the perfect candidate for the job.  Though another company will officially be heading up the venture, they recruited Ng Yu for the role of chairman with the promise that he will be the one who calls all the shots.

-          Aside from Ng Yu, the executive team for this new ATV venture consists mostly of former TVB and EEG people, including:  former TVB Assistant Manager Peter Au (歐偉林), former TVB senior producer Fred Lam (林嘉穎), former EEG artists’ department manager Roger, and also Ng Yu’s long-time secretary Pauline.

-          As of right now, there are already over 100 employees working for this new ATV.  Majority of the employees are former ATV staff (i.e. all the behind-the-scenes people such as makeup artists, costume, PAs, etc.) but due to his connections, Ng Yu was also able to recruit artists and behind-the-scenes staff from both TVB and EEG as well. 

-          Ng Yu stated that they are planning to bring ATV back in its entirety in that they are going to produce TV series (and also purchase series from other countries to air on their channel), variety programs, news programs, and also revive the Miss Asia pageant.  However he said that the Miss Asia pageant this time around will be very different from the past, as he didn’t want all the issues that used to plague the pageant to follow them.

-          Supposedly, Ng Yu is already in talks with a few well-known artists to collaborate with him at this new ATV (most of the names are former ATV artists).  Some of the rumored names include:  Jaclyn Chu (朱慧), Eva Lai (黎燕), Margie Tsang (曾華), Kenneth Chan (陳啟).


  1. Honestly what’s the point? Why not just start a new company entirely? All the old issues that it had would still be there. And yes they would have to change the name, not like it would make a difference.

    Most importantly who will be the owner of this so called “new ATV”?

    With the extra competition from Fox and production houses this sounds like another disaster.

    Who knows maybe EEG will have their own tv station now that Ng Yu is in charge. *rolls eyes*

    In that case I hope all their artiste will conflict with TVB and that JSG award/show can finally die.

    1. @sport: The “owner” is actually the company that ended up buying ATV in the end (I think they’re called China Cultural Media Group or something like that)….that was the same company Nick Ip ended up working for after ATV (though not sure if he’s still working for them now). I don’t know a whole lot about them but they are listed as a Mainland consortium that invests in media and entertainment and has tons of different things under their corporate “umbrella” (kind of like the media conglomerates over here in the U.S.).

      I honestly don’t see the point either, especially if they decide not to change their name. Also, they are doing paid subscription, which only works if there is enough incentive for audiences to want to pay money for their content. My understanding is that ATV sold majority of their old library of content (TV series, variety programs, etc.) to different companies (with TVB being one of them), so that means they will have to produce all new content. Given their reputation, who would be willing to pay for a subscription to ATV to watch brand new content that may or may not even be good? TVB can afford to do the paid subscription thing because they have enough content to warrant it (yea, their current programs may suck but their older content is invaluable – heck, even I’m willing to pay a subscription fee to access TVB’s treasure trove of classic content from the 70s/80s/90s!). It seems to me that Ng Yu and these ATV people haven’t thought things through entirely (or perhaps they have and just aren’t telling the public yet).

    2. For me, seeing this news triggered some thoughts that have nothing to do with ATV. First, of course, the question of what’s going to happen to the current free-to-air license applications out there, since this web channel thing obviously looks to be the wave of the future and could possible render the free TV license obsolete. Nowadays, with the internet and all the technology out there, a free-to-air television license is not really as useful anymore. Actually, to me, getting a free-to-air license is actually worse because of the restrictions and limitations that are placed on them (not to mention the stifling of creativity). TVB for example, recently had a fallout with RTHK because they pulled one of their programs and replaced it with a different one (won’t go into the entire story but rumor has it that the move was politically motivated) – TVB was subsequently penalized (and given a stern warning) by the Communications Authority for breaching the terms of their license (which stipulates that TVB must air X number of hours of RTHK content). Of course, TVB pushed back and complained that the terms are too restrictive and they shouldn’t be “forced” to air content from a government channel. Ultimately of course, the government got their way, since it IS specifically outlined in the license terms.

      Second, I can’t help but think back to HKTV. Isn’t this exact same thing (using OTT technology to allow HK households to access the channel) what HKTV proposed doing several years back (after they were denied a license) and ended up getting shot down by the government because it “circumvented” the free-to-air license method and was therefore “deceptive” and “wrong”? Both sides had to battle it out in court and HKTV of course ended up on the losing side. Ok, so then why is ATV being allowed to do this now when HKTV wasn’t allowed to back then? Isn’t the situation the same? Or am I missing something here? Is the government going to turn a blind eye again just because this is ATV (though yea, they had already turned a blind eye to ATV’s shenanigans for years back when the license fiasco occurred, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that they are going to do it again).

    3. Well my assumption is that this new ATV will create an App for on demand shows. HKTV was allowed to create an app that was downloadable on SmartTVs, ipads, mobile etc for on demand viewing.

      Honestly if HKTV created a serious sole on demand site with the HKTVMall on another tab it would've been must more user friendly.

      Honestly there's no reason why they couldn't have gone the Netflix route. Looking at the amount of money TVMost made through their ads there is no reason why can they continue!

      Honestly hope HKTV's 2nd partner (now main CEO) is working on something similar to Netflix behind the scenes.

      Sure Fox Network will create competition but their style is very different and doesn't consist of entirely HK based actors. Couple with the fact that their series will be 10 or less episodes with mainly veteran and movie actors it doesn't promote new leading actors at all!

      5-10 episodes isn't exactly something that audiences can chase for long periods of time.

      HK needs more networks who are willing to produce more than 20+ episode tv series besides TVB!

    4. Example that series produced by Andy Lau, "The Trading Floor" is only 5 episodes so the total length would be like a movie. Not sure how Stained would be like but HK tv series audience are in desperate need of longer 20 episode tv series. That's why most of turned to K drama or US tv shows.

      Even 9 episode series like Stranger Things can be finished in a week. That leaves a lot of time left without anything else to watch.