RTHK to negotiate Kowloon Tong pullout

Local | 13 May 2020 6:31 pm

Radio Television Hong Kong has begun scrambling to find new office space for dozens of staff after the government told the broadcaster to vacate one of its buildings in Kowloon Tong within the next few months.

The station operates out of three cramped and dilapidated buildings on Broadcast Drive, as well as smaller offices elsewhere in the city.

But on Tuesday, the Education Bureau notified the public broadcaster that it has until September to hand over the keys to Educational Television Centre, being as RTHK stopped making ETV programs on April 1.

Amen Ng, the station's spokeswoman, said around 90 members of staff will have to be relocated, and a new home will have to be found for a lot of broadcasting equipment.

She said the September deadline to leave is a lot sooner than was envisaged, and RTHK would seek to negotiate a staged withdrawal instead.

Ng said the station doesn't currently have enough space to relocate the staff and equipment and she hoped it could keep the ETV site until early next year.

"We will have a plan to ask for more resources for this [move]," she added.

Ng would not be drawn on whether she thinks there is a political element to the decision to evict RTHK from the building, following a string of criticism in recent weeks from the government and police over the station's coverage of the city's ongoing unrest.

DAB lawmaker Elizabeth Quat said it was reasonable for the government to take back the ETV building, since it had cut all funding for ETV production in the latest budget.

Quat said RTHK should have expected that staff would have to move out of the building sooner or later.

"Within these few months, I think RTHK should review all its equipment and the transition process and come up with a list ... and the government should consider giving RTHK extra budget to relocate the equipment if needed," she said.

But Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung accused the government of suppressing RTHK, by cutting its resources and funding.

He said the government should find new office space for production teams and other staff, instead of just forcing them to move out.

In 2014, the government dropped its plan for a new headquarters for RTHK after pro-establishment lawmakers signalled they would not agree to the expected HK$5.3 billion price tag.

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