Cable firing sparks boycott call

Local | Staff Reporter 26 Mar 2020

People online have started a movement to boycott Cable TV after a news staffer was sacked for a controversial social media post involving China Mobile.

One day after the staffer was fired, the head of financial news and the department's news editor Joseph Ngan Po-kong yesterday submitted his resignation to "take responsibility for the mistake in the post," but was persuaded to stay by senior management, according to executive director Fung Tak-hung.

This came after a posting that Cable TV's financial news channel made on its Facebook page on Friday about China Mobile having lost 7.25 million customers in a month.

The post was titled "Where have the seven million people gone?" and said the drop in customers is a historic high.

Hashtags saying "it's impossible for all of them to have switched to China Unicom and China Telecom," "there is only one truth" and "leakage of national secret" were added to the post, speculating on the reasons for the drop.

The post accumulated over 7,000 likes and shares until it was removed on Sunday afternoon at Fung's request.

In an official reply to media enquiries, Fung said the staffer was fired because the hashtags implied speculation that was not based on facts.

"It seriously deviates from the fair and fact-based principles that Cable News has always adhered to," he said. "The colleague denied his handling was wrong and our news department fired him. The decision was not made to cut costs and I don't understand how 'political considerations' could have been a reason."

China Mobile is a partner of Cable TV. The telecom giant based in the mainland last week announced the loss of 7.25 million customers last month.

The news came as its rivals China Unicom and China Telecom saw drops of 1.19 million and 5.6 million, respectively, prompting online speculation whether the figures reflect the actual number of deaths due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the mainland. Analysts said the drop in customers was the result of many dual-SIM card users giving up one of their phone numbers due to the economic slowdown while some attributed it to recent temporary branch closures.

The writer's firing angered some people online, who called for people to unsubscribe from the broadcaster's paid services.

"It's obviously a political move to suppress voices against China. How can Cable still say it's a fair news outlet? I'm unsubscribing from its paid news channel today," one said.

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