TAIPEI - Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai, a pioneer of animated news, plans to sell his Taiwan business after allegedly suffering huge losses on the operation’s TV branch, a report said Friday.

The chairman of Hong Kong-listed Next Media Ltd. has entrusted an unnamed investment bank with selling the business, which also includes Apple Daily newspaper and Next magazine, for $500 million, Taipei-based China Times said. Lai, a vocal critic of Beijing, expanded his media empire to the island in 2001, with the launch of Taiwanese editions of the weekly Next magazine and the Apple Daily. Both have been commercial successes. However, his venture into the island’s saturated television market in the middle of 2011 with several channels featuring news and entertainment appeared to be a failure, the report said. Initially Lai planned to get rid of the money-losing television division only, but he was advised to sell the whole company to attract buyers, the report quoted unnamed sources as saying.

There are more than 100 cable TV channels in Taiwan, including six 24-hour news stations.