New RTHK head says "there’s no freedom without restraint”

Local | 1 Mar 2021 1:14 pm

New Director of Broadcasting Patrick Li on Monday vowed to uphold editorial independence, while at the same time emphasizing the importance of RTHK "fulfilling its editorial responsibilities", adding that there's no "freedom without restraint", RTHK reports.

Li, an administrative officer, was appointed by the government to replace veteran journalist Leung Ka-wing, who left his post six months before the end of his term under "mutual consent" with the government.

The replacement was announced at around the same time a government-appointed review board criticized the public broadcaster for "deficiencies" in its "editorial management mechanism''.

Speaking to reporters on his first day at the job, Li said he would make sure RTHK abides by its charter, provides precise and authoritative information, and airs views impartially.

“On editorial independence, we must be aware that it’s clearly stated in our producers’ guidelines we must fulfill our editorial responsibilities while pursuing editorial independence. It’s stated that ‘there can never be editorial autonomy without responsibility, freedom without restraint’. Therefore, I will make sure we can continue to comply with this editorial policy,” he said.

Asked about his lack of broadcasting experience, he said RTHK is not a one-man band, adding that he looked forward to cooperating with a team of professional staff.

He said that his three decades of experience working at different government bureaus and departments could help RTHK improve its corporate governance.

He stressed that he and his team would study and follow up on recommendations made in a review report published by the government in February which found "weak accountability" at RTHK owing to the lack of well-defined and properly documented editorial processes and decisions, and no clear allocation of roles and responsibilities among staff.

He also said he is committed to grooming staff at RTHK to fill senior positions at the station.

The RTHK Programme Staff Union expressed hope that the new station chief would live up to what he pledged.

Chairwoman Gladys Chiu also urged Li to prioritize moving the station to new headquarters as its current buildings are in a dilapidated state.

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