Tougher checks to make sure RTHK toes line

Radio Television Hong Kong's board of advisers has backed the Communications Authority ruling on its satirical show Headliner and will set up a working group to study ways to make sure programs are in line with its charter. Board chairman Eugene Chan Kin-man spoke after a meeting with...

Erin Chan

Friday, May 22, 2020

Radio Television Hong Kong's board of advisers has backed the Communications Authority ruling on its satirical show Headliner and will set up a working group to study ways to make sure programs are in line with its charter.

Board chairman Eugene Chan Kin-man spoke after a meeting with Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah yesterday. Yau ordered a review of RTHK's editorial processes, management and governance on Wednesday.

Chan said the meeting was an extension of the first reprimand from the authority late last month, which warned RTHK over a November 2019 episode of another program, Pentaprism, for distorting facts and inciting hatred against police.

"The meeting that we attended was to inform the bureau of our understanding of the charter, and our commitment and determination to make sure our advice will comply with RTHK's charter," Chan said.

He said the board agreed with the authority's recent verdict, which found that the station launched a gratuitous attack on police in a February 14 episode of Headliner.

Chan said the director of broadcasting, Leung Ka-wing, who was not invited to the meeting yesterday, had always reassured that all was well at RTHK, and that there was sufficient scrutiny of its production.

"But the result contradicts our expectations," he said. "It was not until the Communications Authority's warnings appeared did we realize there was a problem with the broadcaster's production."

He said there was no discussion of problems with RTHK's management during the meeting with Yau.

Chan also said the board has decided to set up a working group, of which the director of broadcasting and other staff will be part, to make sure RTHK's programs are in line with its charter.

"Its work is to "promote understanding of our community, our nation and world through accurate and impartial news, information, perspectives and analyses," he said.

"This includes how programs can deliver information in an accurate and impartial way, as well as how to achieve its mission as a public broadcaster, including sustaining citizenship and civil society, rendering a sense of citizenship and national identity and promoting the understanding of one country, two systems."

He said it is important for the broadcaster to uphold its duty to produce accurate and impartial programs, which are not limited to news.

"I want to appeal to everyone not to give up on RTHK, because we do hear that some people are disappointed," he said. "Naturally, we all are. But I can assure you that we will do our best to uphold the charter and support RTHK to be better tomorrow."

Asked why Leung was absent from the meeting yesterday, Chan said only advisers were invited. The advisers will meet with Leung next Friday.

Yau said he is aware the board of advisors supported the authority's verdict.

erin.chan@singtaonewscorp.com