Troubled broadcaster Asia Television Limited could be prosecuted if there is sufficient evidence to show that it had deliberately delayed paying wages, Labour Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said on Thursday. He added that accusations that the Labour Department had been indifferent are unfair, as they had “closely monitored the issue”.

Cheung said: “We have maintained close contact with ATV employees. In January, we went to ATV twice to understand the situation and communicate with employees.” He also said that department staff had gone to ATV again to gather evidence and communicate with employees.

“To say that the company’s development is more important than employees’ wages is unacceptable and unreasonable,” Cheung added. He also said that letters had been sent to the board of directors at ATV to remind them of their legal obligations to pay wages.

ATV failed to pay the wages of many employees for December and January. According to labour laws, if ATV fails to pay the wages one month after the deadline, it may be construed as an automatic dismissal of its workers.

The broadcaster has also cut down on the production of programmes, replacing “Good Morning Asia” and “News at 12.30” with reruns of travel shows.

Hermina Wong

Hermina is a Hong Kong writer and journalist. She graduated with a degree in politics from Cambridge, and is interested in international affairs, particularly those related to China, the EU and the Middle East. She also enjoys political satire.