East Asia Satellite TV shifts course

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HONG KONG -- Hong Kong-based East Asia Satellite Television will close its doors in January after two years of losses. Executives said Thursday that the move will reallocate parent company resources toward building a $2 billion hotel-casino-retail-TV studio complex in the world's new gambling capital.

East Asia Satellite Television is a unit of Hong Kong-based East Asia Satellite Television (Holdings) Ltd., which is in turn a subsidiary of eSun Holdings Ltd. -- owner of the hit "Infernal Affairs" film franchise, Hong Kong production powerhouse Media Asia Entertainment Group and East Asia Music.

The satellite channel reported losses of HK$30.9 million ($3.9 million) and HK$28.7 million ($3.7 million) in the past two years.

Ambrose Cheung, eSun executive director and co-CEO of the new complex, Macao Studio City, said the parent company and the channel began operating separately this year.

"We have a wealth of talents under the East Asia banner in producing film, music and television drama. The idea is to focus on those areas," Cheung told The Hollywood Reporter.

The music division recently signed a three-year deal with Asian superstar Andy Lau reportedly worth HK$200 million ($25.6 million).

Parent East Asia Satellite Television (Holdings) Ltd., holds 60% of Cyber One Agents Ltd., a joint venture with the U.S.-based New Cotai Group to develop Macao Studio City.

The complex in Macau, a Chinese special administrative zone one hour from by ferry from Hong Kong -- with which it shares relative economic freedom from Beijing's Communist government -- will include the 40,000-square-foot Playboy Mansion Macao.

Established in Macau in 2000, East Asia Satellite Television began producing programming in Hong Kong in 2001 for networks now-TV and bbTV. Both have been notified of the upcoming shutdown.

bbTV has begun to inform their mainly monthly subscription-based customers of the channel's closing, giving them ample time to cancel their subscriptions.

More than 20 of the closing channel's employees got one month's termination notice on Nov. 30. On Thursday, some disgruntled staffers gratified the channel's official Web site with obscenities and links to adult content.
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