RTHK starving claim denied

Local | Phoenix Un 13 Dec 2018

The government yesterday denied it is starving Radio Television Hong Kong of resources. It also has no plans to merge it with the Government Information Service.

Speculation about RTHK's future has been rife since an audit report lambasted it for giving low value for money, low audience ratings and frequently regurgitating old programs.

In the Legislative Council yesterday Ted Hui Chi-fung of the Democratic Party said RTHK was being treated unfairly as it had been given no extra resources in spite of having to run TV channels from 2016 as well as providing services for minorities.

He also highlighted the fact that RTHK was not allowed to live stream the speech of the then-convener of National Party Andy Chan Ho-tin to the Foreign Correspondents' Club in August, and slammed the government for not building new headquarters for RTHK.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said RTHK already had a higher percentage of resources than other departments.

"RTHK had HK$469 million in 2010/11, and it's already HK$1.0125 billion this fiscal year, an increase of 115 percent, higher than the 85 percent overall increase in government expenditure in the same period," Yau said.

Pro-establishment legislators took another approach, with Ho Chun-yin of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong declaring it was right for the government to disallow RTHK from live streaming Andy Chan's speech, and slammed some RTHK programs for being biased.

Another pro-establishment legislator, Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, also criticized RTHK for having too many civil servants.

"RTHK may merge with the Government Information Services Department, and that might function better and save more money," he said.

Yau said the RTHK Charter gives the range of the broadcaster's editorial autonomy, and the government trusted the Director of Broadcasting in being responsible for this task. Yau also pooh-poohed any likelihood of merging RTHK with GIS. "A public broadcaster bears responsibilities such as producing programs for minorities, and I don't see any likelihood of merging as it has a different function from GIS."

Claudia Mo Man-ching of Council Front criticized [Junius] Ho for his suggestion of integration.

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