Around 430,000 viewers tuned in to watch the final moments of Asia Television (ATV) last Friday – much higher than its regular viewing figures, according to ratings. The 59-year-old channel ended with a “surprise” which was out-of-step with some viewers’ expectations.

The data was received by ATV’s rival TVB. The channel recorded 6.6 rating points at its peak between 11:45pm and midnight. A rating point represents 64,660 viewers – 6.6 points represents around 430,000 viewers, Ming Pao reported.

During the same period, an entertainment programme on TVB Jade recorded rating points of around nine.

ATV shut down on April 1.

ATV’s programmes usually record ratings of between zero and one. The most well received programme was usually the news at 6pm, which often recorded two to three rating points, representing around 220,000 viewers.

On Friday morning, a veteran ATV staff claimed on a radio programme that there would be a surprise –  a “goodbye message card” – being shown on screen for the last minute of ATV’s broadcasting history.

However, the message was never shown. Instead, the channel switched to a blue screen during a re-broadcast of a 2013 entertainment programme. It was soon handed over to RTHK.

Last words shown on ATV from Candy Lo.
The last words shown on ATV from Candy Lo.

Hidden symbolism?

Before the programme was cut short, the last words shown on screen were from Candy Lo, an actress who won the channel’s Miss Asia pageant in 1991.

She was talking about how women should be independent from men.

“We should get independence,” Lo said, as a co-host answered “yes”.

“Especially economic independence,” she added – to which a co-host answered “yes” again.

The subtitles shown on screen instantly became an internet sensation, with social media users linking Lo’s words to recent debate on Hong Kong independence.

Some noted the channel’s name 本港台 (ATV Home) superimposed in the top-left corner could mean “Hong Kong and Taiwan”. Some believed the final moments of ATV were symbolically stating that Hong Kong and Taiwan should gain independence, especially “economic independence”.

Candy Lo's words were made into a cartoon. Photo: Facebook/dollylydraw.
Candy Lo’s words were made into a cartoon. Photo: Facebook/dollylydraw.

In response, Lo said on social media that she was sad to be featured on ATV’s final broadcast.

“I thought something like ‘thank you for supporting ATV’ would be shown… why it did not end well at its final moments?” she asked.

She later told Apple Daily that her words were not intended to reflect a political stance.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.