Security guards escort Wang Zheng, a major shareholder of Asia Television Limited (ATV), outside the station's headquarters in Tai Po on Thursday afternoon. Questions were thrown at him by journalists about ATV's false report on the former president of China. Wang said he only knew of the matter after the television broadcaster aired the news. Provided to China Daily
Station declines to reveal source of mistaken news
Hong Kong broadcaster Asia Television Limited (ATV) has apologized for broadcasting an erroneous report of the death of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin on Wednesday night.
In a written statement issued late Thursday afternoon, the broadcaster apologized to it audience, Jiang and his family.
ATV didn't reveal the source of the erroneous report.
ATV withdrew its report about the death of the former president after China's official Xinhua News Agency dismissed the report at midday, quoting "authoritative sources".
It said recent reports of some overseas media organizations about Jiang Zemin's death from illness are "pure rumor".
About one hour after Xinhua's clarification, the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong voiced "great indignation" through Hong Kong China News Agency.
The office criticized ATV for "serious violations to the ethics of journalism".
It said the report was "purely rumor without basis in fact".
The false report by ATV was aired on Wednesday's evening news at 6 pm.
The report said "Jiang had died of illness at 84".
For approximately two hours after the initial report, the ATV logo on screen turned to gray from orange to show condolence.
The television station also was scheduled to broadcast a one-hour special program about the life of Jiang at 9:30 pm Wednesday. The program was cancelled about half an hour before airtime.
Wang Zheng, a major shareholder of ATV and reportedly a relative of Jiang, denied that he was the source.
He said he "was unaware of the report until he saw it on ATV".
Wang defended ATV, saying it "may be difficult to avoid (misreporting) in Hong Kong".
He asked other media "not to overreact".
The incorrect report aroused public resentment.
A torrent of criticism poured on to the Internet.
The Broadcasting Authority also received 13 complaints about the erroneous report. firstname.lastname@example.org
(HK Edition 07/08/2011 page1)