RTHK plan to delete content spurs online pushLocal | Michael Shum 3 May 2021
People online are discussing plans to back up RTHK programs after the public broadcaster said it will delete content that is more than a year old from its YouTube and Facebook.
They called on others to download their favorite RTHK programs and reupload them to another platform, with some even providing step-by-step tutorials teaching others how to download programs from YouTube.
This came after reports saying the RTHK management plans to delete the programs online a year after they aired. Currently, the oldest program available on RTHK's YouTube channel aired in 2008.
RTHK said existing programs are kept on its website for a year only. The new arrangement will ensure content on other internet platforms are treated the same.
Racing against time, netizens are calling upon peers to archive controversial RTHK programs that will soon meet the one-year benchmark.
That includes the satirical program Headliner, which was suspended after the Communications Authority warned the broadcaster over an episode that insulted the police. The last episode aired on June 19.
Two episodes of Hong Kong Connection investigating the July 21, 2019, assaults in the Yuen Long MTR station will also be deleted shortly. The coproducer of one of the episodes, Bao Choy Yuk-ling, was earlier fined HK$6,000 for making false statements while running car registration searches for the program.
Ignoring copyright concerns, netizens suggested uploading the programs to streaming websites - one joked they can consider porn sites.
An RTHK staffer said the new arrangement is obviously intended to remove all previously aired programs the new management does not like.
The RTHK Programme Staff Union said it was disappointing that programs reflecting Hong Kong's history would be deleted, adding that they reflect their colleagues' efforts.
"Some of the programs recorded changes in the livelihood of Hongkongers and are worth keeping. It is really disappointing to see them removed a year after they aired," the union said.
The union added YouTube and Facebook do not have an upload limit, so it is unnecessary to remove programs from those platforms.
Bruce Lui Ping-kuen, a senior journalism lecturer at the Baptist University, said the new arrangement seems more like a government move than that by a normal media outlet.
"There are only two reasons why the government wants to delete records: either the records are incorrect, or the records are embarrassing to the administration and therefore it doesn't want them to be circulated among citizens," Lui said.
"News reports and documentaries record history and it is via them that the next generation learns about historical events," he said.