ATV greets the future as it celebrates the past

As ATV celebrates its 50th anniversary, the Hong Kong-based broadcaster is putting in place plans to make the next 50 even more successful

With handsome new headquarters rising in Tai Po, four new HD channels on the way, and a recently-formed subsidiary ramping up drama production and expanding into artist management and live shows, Asia Television Limited (ATV) has its eyes firmly on the future.

Chief Executive Chan Wing Kee underscores the upbeat mood at the company when he declares, “ATV will continue its success by focusing on Asia and breakthroughs in creativity. Our vision is to integrate Greater China and international elements to become one of the most valuable and influential media in the Southern China region.”

“We will fully utilise the platform of the new entertainment company that we set up to continue to add new elements to our drama production, and by engaging talented artists from both Hong Kong and Mainland China and even other countries in Asia. With the new entertainment company there’s no geographical boundary. We will also incorporate technical innovations to our programme production, and we are open to explore any opportunity of crossmedia delivery. In doing all this, our ultimate aim is of course to bring the highest quality programmes to ATV’s viewers.”

ATV is spending approximately $HK600 million ($76.7 million) on new premises in Tai Po Industrial Estate. The new broadcasting centre will boast a total floor area of more than 550,000 sq feet, three times larger than the existing offices. It will be equipped with four news studios, eight variety show and drama studios, as well as a comprehensive range of digital broadcasting facilities; one studio for variety will cover a cavernous 20,000 square feet. All in readiness for the launch of four new HD channels late 2007. A new on-air look and logos are also promised. ATV says it’s engaging a well known, UK-based broadcast design and media consultancy to work with it on a “total solution” for new visual identities and brand personalities, with new logos and jingles. More details will be forthcoming after the 50th anniversary celebrations. A delay in plans for a stock market listing means ATV won’t discuss its financial data. However H.Y. Kwong, Senior Vice President Corporate Development and External Affairs, Asia Television Limited, says 75% of its advertising revenue comes from Hong Kong, with the balance from China’s Guangdong province. “The conversion to new media is a growing trend, especially since we’ve got the digital terrestrial television (DTT) license from the Hong Kong SAR government,” said Kwong. “The synergy of broadband, mobile and Internet is in the pipeline, while viewers can already download some of our programmes, including dramas, news and infotainment programmes, from our web site. “We are discussing with various overseas operators, such as those in the U.S. and Canada, to obtain more channels to air our programmes outside of Hong Kong,” he adds. As for the 50th anniversary shindigs, recently-established subsidiary Asia Entertainment Production Limited is producing two concerts in April. Some 15 well-known Hong Kong singers will deliver classic theme songs from memorable ATV dramas. Johnny Yip and Lee Loon Ki are among the confirmed artists. A karaoke DVD of the concert is also planned. The 13th annual Most Popular TV Commercial Awards presentation will be held on May 6 2007. To tie in with the celebrations, there will be a total of 50 nominees for the awards and the theme will be ‘Ideas First’. Hosting this year will be Kenneth Chan Kai Tai, Andrew Yuen Man Kit and Ben Cheung; and famous Hong Kong/China actress Athena Chu will be a guest host. This summer comes the 2007 Miss Asia Pageant staged by ATV, an event that dates back to 1985. In 2004 the contest was opened up to candidates in the rest of Asia. ATV has prided itself on fostering regional tourism, economic growth and cultural and charity exchanges through co-operation with many countries in the region. The pageant’s theme this year is ‘Manifold Beauty Under the Same Sky’. Gary Yeung Siu Hung, General Manager, Asia Entertainment Production Limited, says: “We will inaugurate the district competition in Asia, extending the reach and representation of the pageant while the Final will be held in one of the cities in Asia.” Asia Entertainment is the vehicle through which ATV is producing at least 300 hours of programming annually, including Cang Hai Fu Tian, a co-production with China’s Hunan TV, sitcom Tales of the Walled Village, and a remake of the classic drama New Crocodile’s Tear. Asia Entertainment has also set up an artist management department, which as well as representing established performers will seek out emerging talent in Hong Kong, the Mainland and Taiwan. And it plans to stage concerts and live dramas in the region. ATV operates the Chinese Home Channel and the English World Channel. In North America, its pay TV Chinese service ATV Home Channel America offers subscribers an eclectic range of Cantonese programming on Echostar’s Dish network. It obtained landing rights in Guangdong province, covering nine major cities, in 2002. From December 2004 it’s provided a 24-hour news channel to the PCCW’s now broadband service. It’s clear that Hong Kong viewers love their food, and travelling. Last year three of the top 10 programmes on ATV Home were food-related: Hong Kong Food Special, Hong Kong Chefs Special and Behind the Food. In the infotainment program Summer Travel, two hosts trekked to tourist attractions in mainland China and South East Asia. Korean drama continued to delight Hong Kong viewers. One of the most popular, Lovely Samsoon was the tale of a plump Korean girl, Samsoon, who, although lacking beauty and a decent career, ultimately found love. ATV Evening News at 6:00pm is one of the longest-history news platforms in Hong Kong. Five of the top 10 shows on ATV World were part of the series On the Horizons: On the Horizon National Geographic – When Animals Attracts, On the Horizon Globe Trekker the Good (&Bad) Food Guide 2, On the Horizon National Geographic – Great Bear Rainforest, On the Horizon National Geographic – Killers Cats, and On the Horizon National Geographic – Predators at War: The Com. ATV World is also known for its strong movie line-up, and The Scorpion King and Home Alone both figured in the top 10 in 2006. Looking ahead, ATV intends to expand its infotainment programming, delving into subjects such as peoples’ customs, traditions and cuisine. Kwong said, “We are also interested more in programmes on our neighbouring region and places such as Macau, Mainland China and Taiwan, instead of just Hong Kong.” On a corporate level, local media has reported that ATV delayed its initial public offering to the end of 2007 while it awaits government approval on selling a 22% stake of the company to Citic Guoan Information Industry. That would mark the first time a state-owned firm buys into a Hong Kong television broadcaster. The South China Morning Post predicted ATV would be valued at HK$6 billion-HK$7 billion ($US767 million- $US895 million), about one third of TVB’s market value. The paper noted that after the sale to Citic Guoan, ATV Chief Executive Chan Wing Kee will hold 30.2% of the company, while Liu Chang-le, chairman of Phoenix Satellite Broadcasting, will hold 40.9%.

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