End of an era in Hong Kong TV last night with the city's No.2 network Asia Television ceasing transmission after 59 years. ATV was founded as a pay TV service of Rediffusion radio in March 1957 and obtained a FTA licence in 1973. From 1981 and 1984 it was owned by an Australian consortium including CRA (now Rio Tinto), Henry Jones IXL (now owned by SPC Ardmona) and David Syme & Co, publisher of The Age in Melbourne (now owned by Fairfax). From 1993 to 2009 it provided evening news bulletins to be re-broadcast on SBS in early mornings. In recent years, infighting between shareholders and heavy debt affected ATV's operations and its FTA licence was not renewed by HK Executive Council on April 1 last year, giving the network 12 months to close. ATV was so cash-strapped that the news department was run by skeleton staff in the last two months, the company could not pay out all its staff and make a farewell show last night. This was recorded at the end of the late news (in Cantonese):
The new owner of ATV said it would broadcast to HK via satellite and IPTV in the future, pending a court case to wind up the company which will be heard on April 13. It has also said it will apply for a new terrestrial FTA licence.
From today, public broadcaster RTHK will simulcast its two digital channels (RTHK33 and CCTV-9 documentary channel) on ATV's analogue spectrum, while some of ATV's digital spectrum goes to Viu TV, owned by local telco PCCW which also runs pay-TV service NOW. Viu TV will make its debut next Wednesday, April 6.