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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Buyout stokes Hong Kong media fears
ATV logo
ATV is the number two broadcaster in Hong Kong
The second biggest television network in Hong Kong is to be taken over by a company with close interests to Beijing.

The deal puts Asia Television (ATV) under the control of Liu Changle, a former senior propaganda official in China's People's Liberation Army.

Mr Lui's close links with the Chinese authorities have created concern in Hong Kong where many people already believe China is building increasing influence over local media.

The purchase requires regulatory approval in Hong Kong as existing policy says the two local television networks must be in the control of Hong Kong residents.

Mr Lui is not a resident of Hong Kong but media analyst Stephen Vines told the BBC's World Business Report he believes the authorities will find a way around this rule.

"Extensive" concerns

Mr Lui Changle controls Today Asia, which in turn is buying a 46% controlling stake in ATV.

Mr Lui's business partner, Chan Wing-kee, is a Hong Kong delegate to the National People's Congress and is known for his strong support of Beijing.

Stephen Vines described concerns about this deal in Hong Kong as "extensive".

"Because Mr Lui's orientation is towards making money in the Chinese market it seems very obvious to people here that he's not going to have anything broadcast on ATV... which causes concern in China," Mr Vines said.

Concerns dismissed

But Chan Wing-kee has dismissed these concerns, telling reporters "the news department will remain independent".

"I always support editorial independence," he added.

General concern about the independence of the media in growing in Hong Kong, Stephen Vines said.

"People who are more outspoken as critics of the Chinese government are finding it more and more difficult to achieve the kind of outlets that they had in the past."

Hong Kong was returned to Chinese control in 1997.

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Stephen Vines, media analyst
"His (Mr Lui's) background is principally as an officer in the People's Liberation Army"
See also:

17 Jan 02 | Business
09 Aug 01 | Media reports
29 Jun 01 | Media reports
09 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
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