Asia Television Limited

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Asia Television Limited
亞洲電視有限公司
Type Limited company
Industry Broadcasting
Predecessor(s) Rediffusion Television
Founded 29 May 1957
Headquarters 25-31 Dai Shing Street,
Tai Po Industrial Estate,
Tai Po, Hong Kong
Key people Kwong Hoi Ying (Acting CEO)
Products ATV Home, ATV World, ATV Asia, ATV Classic
Employees 900 (2009)
Subsidiaries aTV Enterprises Ltd
aTV International Promotion Ltd
hkatv.com Ltd
aTV Films Entertainment Ltd
aTV Music Ltd
Website hkatv.com

Asia Television Limited (Chinese: 亞洲電視有限公司) is one of the two free-to-air television broadcasters in Hong Kong, the other being rival Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB). It launched in 1957 under the name Rediffusion Television as the first television station in Hong Kong. It was bought out, renamed, and restructured to "Asia Television Limited" in 1982.

ATV currently operates six channels: the 24-hour ATV Home channel in Cantonese; the 22-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.

In 2002, ATV gained approval from China's State Administration for Radio, Film and Television to beam its Home and World channels to the Guangdong Pearl River Delta region. ATV has also established a close relationship with Guangdong TV to ensure their stable cooperation in programme productions, advertising, and sales.

ATV has received numerous awards for its programmes. One of its successes is the local version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (百萬富翁), a game show originally launched in the United Kingdom in 1998. In 2001, ATV bought the production rights for the Hong Kong market and subsequently enjoyed an upturn in its viewing figures. TVB responded by producing similar game shows.

History and ownership

Early years

Rediffusion Television, the predecessor to ATV, began as a wired radio broadcasting service in 1949.1 The original office was located on Arsenal Street and Hennessy Road. It launched its subscription-based TV service on 29 May 1957. In 1959, Refiffusion 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 as a result. 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 license in 1973 by the Hong Kong Government. This comes after the government had switched to using the wireless television, which Rediffusion was one of two (currently four) free-to-air stations (the other is TVB). It has remained this way as of 2010.

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

Ownership shift

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.2

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 Lam 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 (邱德根), 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 (麗新集團) 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.3

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/Endless Love (藍色生死戀).

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 becomes executive chairman.4 After just 2 weeks Ricky Wong resigned from his position due to many factors.5 In early 2009, Taiwanese billionaire Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) signed a preliminary agreement to become a key shareholder of Alnery, a company that controls 47.58% of ATV.6 Tsai has agreed to inject HK$1 billion in the form of convertible bonds.7 Tsai and Payson Cha have since debated over control of the station.8

2013 wind up lawsuit

On 19 June 2013, Hop Chung Tourist Car Company filed a lawsuit asking the High Court to wind up ATV over unpaid bills totaling HK$900,000. It claimed that the firm had for the past 20 years provided the broadcaster with a shuttle bus, transport for shoots and public relations bus services and the contract has run it course, but ATV has not paid in full. ATV executive director James Shing Pan-yu said he would not comment on the lawsuit but assured reporters the TV station is financially sound and has no financial problems.9

Location

In 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.

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).10 The new HQ is the former site of the Lee Kum Kee's Hong Kong headquarters and factory operations in Hong Kong.

News operation

ATV News vehicle

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 recognized as pro-Beijing.4

Programming

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.

Programmes on ATV Home

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). Recent productions of note include The Pride of Chao Zhou (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.

Drama series

A list of drama series produced by ATV:

Programmes on ATV World

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 (超人前傳), 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 Late News programme as of 2010.

Slogans over the years

Rediffusion era

  • 1971-1972: 8 to 9 on Rediffusion, Great drama every night (麗的八至九,好戲日日有)
  • 1972: Today's Rediffusion, Your Rediffusion (今日既麗的,你既麗的)
  • 1972: Great programmes on Rediffusion everyday, no need to read the Tung shing (麗的節目日日精,駛乜睇通勝)
  • 1973-1974: So many great programmes on Rediffusion, Why change the channel? (麗的咁好睇,何必再『手禁』掣)
  • 1974-1976: 8 to 9 on Rediffusion, a new wave of wuxia (麗的八至九,武俠新潮流)
  • 1977: Raising a thousand sails, showing our colours (千帆並舉展繽紛)
  • 1977: Watch Rediffusion tonight, tomorrow night, and every other night (今晚、明晚、晚晚睇麗的)

Asia Television era

  • 24 September 1982: Living your kind of life
  • 1985: Turn on to ATV
  • 1987: Gold and Diamond shining upon Hong Kong: ATV shows its brilliance (黃金鑽石耀香港、亞洲電視顯光芒)
  • 1988: Perseverance (奮鬥)11
  • August 1993- Cooperate and fight for creativity, March shows its brilliance (協力爭創意 三月顯光芒)
  • 1993: With vigor, striving for perfection (憑幹勁 精益求精)
  • 1996: Embrace every moment (擁抱每一刻)
  • 1998: A newer than new ATV, a newer than new choice (新新ATV,新新的選擇)
  • End of 2001-Early 2002: Using our hearts to enter the new year (用心邁向新一年)
  • 2003: Dare to think, dare to create, a hundred flowers will open (敢想敢創,百花齊放)
  • 2004: Creativity, Power: Asia Television (創新.動力.亞洲電視)
  • 2004: 2004: the tide is on Asia's side (2004勢在亞洲)
  • 2005: Strive for creativity, choose Asia (追求創意 選擇亞洲)
  • November 2005-February 2006: The real power is at Asia (真的力量就在亞洲)
  • February–October 2006: Original creation: a new shining point (原創.新亮點)
  • October–December 2006: Asia Television, I support you (亞視.我撐你)
  • January–September 2007: It's all because of you (全因你而起)

aTV era

  • September–October 2007: A new logo, a new power, a new atmosphere (新台徽,新力量,新氣象)
  • October–December 2007: aTV can be watched like this (可以咁睇aTV)
  • January–March 2008: I can decide, the choice is boundless (由我作主,選擇無極限)
  • January–March 2008: aTV Digital Television, The choice is boundless ( aTV數碼電視,選擇無極限)
  • March–April 2008: The restless life, aTV (生生不息,aTV)
  • April–May 2008: The Spring flares, stronger as it goes (春日花火 愈戰愈強)
  • May–August 2008: Rally for China, cheer for heroes (為中國加油 為英雄喝采)
  • August 2008-May 2009: The charismatic Asia (魅力亞洲)
  • December 2008-March 2009: aBot fervently supports Hong Kong (aBot熱撐香港)
  • March–May 2009: An exciting evolution: a new digital order for aTV (精彩進化 aTV數碼新秩序)
  • May 2009–Present: Dare to dream, moving forward with happiness (敢於夢想 開心向前)
  • 2011: Conscience . Fashion (良心‧時尚)
  • 2012–Present: aTV, Hong Kong's Conscience(亞洲電視,香港良心)

ATV Training Institute

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.

Licence

ATV recently had its licence renewed for another 12 years. Under the terms of the licence renewal, the Broadcasting Authority required that ATV World provide bilingual subtitles on news, weather and current affairs shows, educational shows, and emergency announcements, beginning in December 2004. The company was also required to provide more cultural and arts shows.

Major competitor

Not counting pay television channels, 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 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%.

Actor crossovers

TVB is known to typecast their performers, with some always given lead roles and others always given supporting roles. As such, certain actors have left TVB for ATV in hopes of better opportunities, although in most cases the crossover 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're 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 also acquired ATV actors, the cross over is higher in frequency with TVB actors to ATV.

Current ATV personalities

Past ATV personalities

Criticism

Falling figures

In recent years, viewing figures for ATV Home have 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. Some Hong Kong viewers have complained that programmes aired on ATV Home are "old-fashioned" and not in tune with the preferences of the Hong Kong TV audience.

Controversy and bias

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 makes 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".12

See also

References

  1. ^ Kitley, Philip. [2003] (2003). Television, Regulation and Civil Society in Asia. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-29733-8
  2. ^ ATV 46th Anniversary Retrospective (2003), p.34
  3. ^ Dennis Eng, A little less debt for ailing Lai Sun, The Standard, 18 November 2002
  4. ^ a b The Standard HK. "The Standard.com." Survival Drama. Retrieved on 2008-12-07.
  5. ^ South China Morning Post. "SCMP." Outspoken, and out of a job. Retrieved on 2008-12-24.
  6. ^ Etaiwannews.com. "etaiwannews.com." Tsai Eng-meng funds HK station. Retrieved on 2009-02-03.
  7. ^ The Standard HK. "[Friend of ATV chief helped fix $1b deal The Standard.com]." Article. Retrieved on 2009-02-02.
  8. ^ The Standard HK. "The Standard.com." Cha accused as ATV spat flares up in public. Retrieved on 2010-01-10.
  9. ^ "Coach firm chases ATV over unpaid bills". The Standard. 20 June 2013. 
  10. ^ ATV greets the future as it celebrates the past
  11. ^ ver.1 on YouTube ver.2 on YouTube ver.3 on YouTube
  12. ^ http://shanghaiist.com/2012/09/04/hong_kongs_atv_london_and_washingto.php

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