Hong Kong TV's Ricky Wong denies reports of his rescue of Asia Television

HONG KONG - Internet TV startup Hong Kong Television has denied reports that its chairman Ricky Wong has stepped in to save Asia Television from its financial woes.

HKTV's statement today followed Tuesday's announcement by ATV that its owners will transfer a controlling stake to HKTV.

Shareholder Wong Ben Koon and major investor Wong Ching have accepted the main conditions of HKTV's Wong, a statement by the over-the-air broadcaster had said in news ran by Bloomberg and major media outlets.

The majority of ATV's debts will be forgiven, ATV had said.

But HKTV's statement this morning said while Ricky Wong did meet with Wong Ching, the meeting was merely an exchange of ideas on ATV's licence renewal and ways to keep the insolvent broadcaster running, reported Hong Kong's The Standard.

The statement also said HKTV had not been in discussion with the accounting firm Deloitte, which was appointed by the High Court to sell 10.75 per cent of Wong Ching's stake in ATV.

But in another twist, Deloitte later in the morning said ATV's major shareholders have agreed to sell their interests to an undisclosed investor.

The news came an hour before the policy-making Executive Council was to meet to discuss ATV's fate.

ATV had announced the news of Wong's takeover on Tuesday during an evening newscast.

The oldest TV station in Hong Kong has been plagued with problems including court action for failing to pay workers.

It also faced a possible non-renewal of its broadcasting licence which expires in November.

The Standard today quoted legislator Charles Mok as telling RTHK that he believes that ATV made the announcement as it probably expected that ATV's licence would not be renewed.

It could have done that as a last ditch effort to force the government to extend its licence, Mok said.

Tuesday's announcement by ATV had been seen as a victory of sorts for Ricky Wong, who had fought to own a free-to-air TV licence.

The government rejected his bid for a licence in 2013.

That sparked a protest by tens of thousands of people outside government headquarters. His bid for a mobile TV licence later also hit snags.

He launched HKTV as an online TV station last year with streamings of crime thriller Borderline and political drama The Election, starring Lee Sinje and Liu Kai Chi.