Hong Kong satellite channel to accept voluntary subs from viewers

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HONG KONG -- Asia's "no sex, no violence, no news" TV boss, Robert Chua, is attempting to prolong the life of his struggling Hong Kong-based satellite channel by accepting "voluntary subscription fees" from viewers.

The struggling family-friendly China Entertainment Television Broadcast Ltd was scheduled to shut down January 31. Severe cost-cutting measures, which include laying off half of his staff and putting the other half on 50% pay, have staved off D-day until the end of February while Mr. Chua seeks a white knight investor.

The latest financial crisis struck when Mr. Chua's 80% sale of CETV to a mainland consortium fell through before Christmas.

Mr. Chua claimed viewer response to live nightly phone-in shows to explain CETV's predicament had "attracted many mainland advertisers to phone in with offers of advertising support for the channel." He said this had been "gratefully accepted", along with offers of "voluntary subscription" from viewers keen to keep the channel on air.

In a statement released before last week's Chinese New Year celebrations, Mr. Chua said CETV viewers "felt it is their responsibility to pay for a voluntary subscription in order for CETV to continue."

A special bank account has been established to collect donations. The money will be transferred to a CETV Charity Fund to help Chinese in need once a new investor is found.

Copyright February 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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