The Communications Authority has moved to suspend the broadcast licence of beleaguered broadcaster Asia Television Limited for 30 days. However, the suspension may not take effect before its licence is due to expire on April 1.
During a special meeting on Monday, the regulator concluded that ATV had failed to meet its obligations under the Broadcasting Ordinance. As a free-to-air broadcaster, it is meant to air a nightly news programme. Bulletins on its Home channel were suspended on February 6 and replaced with travel show reruns.
In a statement, the authority also noted that ATV had failed to provide residences for directors and pay outstanding licence fees and penalties, as per licence requirements.
As an independent regulator, a spokesperson said it was unable to turn a “blind eye”, even though the suspension may take effect after ATV’s licence expires.
“…it may appear pointless for the CA to sanction a beleaguered and cash-strapped ATV, whose management and staff have been struggling, after all, to maintain a minimum level of service notwithstanding ATV’s financial predicament”.
However, the authority “is duty bound to perform its statutory function of regulating the broadcasting industry,” the spokesperson added.
While the authority is able to suspend licences in cases of “serious breaches” of the ordinance, only the Chief Executive may revoke a licence.
In February, Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Gregory So said that ATV was free to surrender its licence before it was set to expire.