Beleaguered television station ATV is bidding farewell to its audience as its free-to-air licence expires at midnight on April 1.

All eight ATV channels, including two analog channels – the Cantonese-language Home and English-language World will go off air at midnight. RTHK will then take over ATV’s analog channels. The audience will see a 10-minute blank screen before the transfer is complete.

ATV closing (for the day)
ATV headquarters.

The soon-to-be-defunct broadcaster was continuing work as usual on Friday, according to spokesperson Jeff Wong Sau-tung.

As nearly six decades of broadcasting come to an end, Wong said ATV might continue to live on in another form.

“I hope it can continue providing its service as an online or satellite television station,” Wong told RTHK. “Obviously, whether or not this is practical, it will depend on our investors and our provisional liquidator. ATV is a 59-year-old local brand, and I really hope it could persevere.”

atv jeff wong
ATV’s Jeff Wong. Photo: Stand News.

There are currently around 160 “re-hired” workers at ATV. Wong said there were no end dates on the contracts they signed with their provisional liquidator, Deloitte. The contract specifies a seven-day notification for dismissal but Wong said he has not received a dismissal letter yet.

Veteran employee Ching Kai-kwong claimed in an interview with RTHK, that there will be an on air “surprise” before ATV goes dark.

The first station to receive a free-to-air broadcasting licence, ATV had that licence revoked last year by the government. The embattled station’s repeated failures to pay its staff their wages also set the stage for its eventual demise on April 1.

Ashley is a Hong Kong-based multi-media journalist. She has a special interest in arts and culture. She has worked with the BBC and the Associated Press and holds a journalism degree from the University of Sheffield.