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Curtains for Hong Kong’s ATV as government declines to renew broadcasting licence

ATVAsia Television, Hong Kong’s oldest television network, is to close down after the government declined to renew the troubled pro-Beijing broadcaster’s free-to-air licence, which expires in November.

The closure of the channel that once had ambitions to be Asia’s CNN is the first time a TV licence has not been renewed in Hong Kong, and could mean the loss of about 700 jobs.

“There is not sufficient reason to extend ATV’s license,” Gregory So, secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, was quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal.

The news comes the day after it was falsely reported that Ricky Wong, the entrepreneur behind internet TV station HKTV, would be stepping in to rescue the station, which has been struggling financially, and fined by the government for failing to pay staff on time.

Wong denied a claim made by ATV head Wong Ching that he would by buying the station.

ATV will be permitted to run until 1 April next year, but is likely to wind up before then.

Meanwhile, the government is formally giving a free-to-air licence to Hong Kong Television Entertainment, led by Richard Li Tzar-kai’s oif PCCW, which operates pay-TV channel Now TV.

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