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ATV news chief quits over Jiang death report

Tuesday 06 Sep 2011
A Hong Kong television station news chief and his deputy have resigned over an erroneous report that former Chinese President Jiang Zemin (right) had died, the broadcaster announced today.

Asia Television Ltd (ATV), one of two free-to-view broadcasters in the self-governed Chinese city, had cited unspecified sources on 6 July to report that the 85-year-old former leader had died.

It apologised for the error the following day, after China state media called the report “pure rumour”.

The mistake prompted Leung Ka-wing, ATV Senior Vice-President of news and public affairs, and his deputy to quit, an ATV spokeswoman told AFP. Their resignations took effect immediately, she said.

“Why do I have to take full responsibility? It is because I failed to stop that news report from being aired despite my all-out efforts,” Mr Leung told ATV News late yesterday. He did not elaborate on his efforts.

Speculation that Mr Jiang could be seriously ill surfaced after the former leader failed to appear at celebrations marking the Communist Party’s 90th birthday in early July. He stepped down as the country’s president in 2003 after guiding the nation through more than a decade of blistering economic growth.

The incorrect report has also prompted Hong Kong’s broadcasting watchdog to launch an investigation on ATV last month after it received 41 complaints.

The station could face fines and a suspension of its licence if found guilty of violating broadcasting regulations.