Mainland China-based entrepreneur and Phoenix Satellite TV chairman, Liu Changle, has grabbed a controlling stake in Hong Kong free-to-air broadcaster Asia Television (ATV).

A company controlled by Liu, Vital Media Holdings (VMH), has acquired a 46% stake in ATV from Dragon Viceroy Ltd - a joint venture between Liu and ATV CEO Feng Xiaoping.

The deal, which effectively means that Liu has bought out his former partner in ATV, makes him the controlling shareholder in the company. His business partner, Chan Wing-kee, has been appointed as CEO, replacing Feng.

However, the deal still faces regulatory approval as Liu is not a Hong Kong permanent resident. It has also raised concerns about mainland China's growing influence on the Hong Kong media as both Liu and Chan have strong ties to the mainland government. Liu is a former propaganda official in the People's Liberation Army. Chan is a local deputy for Beijing's rubber stamp parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC).

Liu is best known as the chairman of Mandarin-language broadcaster Phoenix Satellite Television, which he owns in a joint venture with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Phoenix was one of three foreign broadcasters given the official nod to broadcast in China last autumn, along with News Corp's Star TV and AOL Time Warner's China Entertainment Television (CETV).

ATV is one of two free-to-air broadcasters in Hong Kong but holds only a 24% share of the audience compared to 63% for rival TVB. Dragon Viceroy - a joint venture between Liu and Feng - took control of ATV from Hong Kong media tycoon Lim Por-yen in 1998.