Hong Kong tycoon Deacon Chiu, who made Asia Television profitable, dies

HONG KONG - Deacon Chiu, the tycoon who made Hong Kong broadcaster Asia Television profitable, died on Tuesday morning, aged 90.

He was found unconscious at his villa and was declared dead at a hospital in Hong Kong, reported the South China Morning Post.

Police said he had a history of ill-health and that there were no suspicious circumstances.

Chiu, the founder of property developer Far East Consortium, was in the property and other businesses in 1982 when he bought Rediffusion Television and renamed it Asia Television.

The Shanghai-born entrepreneur was the only owner ever to turn the station into a profitable venture, reported SCMP. He sold it in 1989.

His ability to control costs at ATV - a rival in its early days to Hong Kong's other free TV broadcaster TVB - was well known, Apple Daily said.

He was said to have limited two squares of toilet paper for each employee to use. The founder of Far East Bank would also give bank gift vouchers in lieu of red packets or "lai see" for Chinese New Year.

But he was personable and his death drew tributes from former ATV stars. Actress Paw Hee Ching told Apple: "It was a glorious period for ATV under him. That sort of vitality was never again seen.

"He loved ATV. We had met in the past and he would say he missed ATV and wonder why it was in such a state."

Cash-strapped ATV is struggling with both its ratings and finances and last month finally paid its staff outstanding wages.

Chiu started working at the age of 15 in a cinema. His first investment after arriving in Hong Kong was by opening a cinema in a rural area, said SCMP.

In one of the ATV drama serial projects said to have been started by Chiu, actor Liu Yong won fame starring in 1986 as the first Qin emperor in The Rise Of The Great Wall.

The Rise And Fall of Qing Dynasty in 1987 was another hit.

Chiu would sell the rights to the dramas to the mainland for extra revenue. He also started the Miss Asia Pageant to rival TVB's Miss Hong Kong contest.

The tycoon faced charges of false accounting in the 1980s before the case was dropped because he had Alzheimer's disease.

His first wife died in an aircrash; he later married her sister. With them, he had eight children.

ATV issued a statement to express condolences to his family, and thanked him for his contribution to the development of the broadcaster, said SCMP.