Hong Kong-based Asia Television Limited, or ATV, announced on Thursday it was laying off 207 employees, followed by an announcement on the sacking of about 50 employees by its competitor Television Broadcasting Corporation, or TVB.
The announcement by ATV, one of the mainstream stations in Hong Kong, came in the afternoon, with Executive Chairman Linus Cheung sending a letter to staff saying the "difficult decision" came after a review of company corporate structure.
Cheung said that the company had lost billions of HK dollars (7. 8 HK dollars = 1 U.S. dollar) over the past years, leading to pressure on the company's shareholders.
The company faced severe challenges in its operation following the unraveling of the financial turmoil, and decisive actions were needed to save the company, he said.
"ATV can only ride out of the difficult times with the adoption of downsizing," a statement released by ATV quoted Cheung as saying in the letter.
Local media reports said the job cuts included staff members of the TV station's news department such as editors, directors and part-time employees.
Some of the sacked staff members were seen leaving the office building of the TV station, as reporters gathered outside to interview people from ATV.
One of the sacked staff members said he was not surprised by the job cuts.
ATV is one of the three major television stations in Hong Kong. It operates a 24-hour Home channel and a 22-hour world channel in English. It also offers paid TV programs in North America, with quite a viewers group in the Chinese community.
Founded in 1957, ATV had a headcount of about 900 before the lay-offs.
The job cuts followed the dismissal of 63 employees three months earlier by ATV. It said it had to cut the jobs to reduce costs amid the global financial tsunami.
The announcement on job cuts by TVB, also one of the three mainstream TV stations in Hong Kong, came just hours later. It affected about 50 employees who were leaving their offices starting on Thursday, a spokesperson for the company said.
Several of the sacked employees were those of the news department, and 40 of them were staff members of the engineering department, local media reported.
The spokesperson for TVB said the job cuts included some of the positions involved in a downsizing announced late last year.
The Labor and Welfare Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said it believed ATV had made the decision after due consideration, adding that it has set up a hotline to assist those who have been sacked.
Chief Secretary for Administration Henry Tang of the HKSAR government said he was disappointed to see further job cuts by local enterprises. The employees were valuable assets for companies and employers should avoid easy decisions to cut jobs, he said.
Some companies in Hong Kong made job cuts amid the global economic downturn. Recent news reports of potential lay-offs by certain large enterprises, though unconfirmed by the companies in question, even triggered protests.