Hong Kong’s public service broadcaster has asked the government to delay its deadline to vacate a department building to next year, citing short notice.

As the property owner, the Education Bureau on Tuesday ordered Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) to leave the Educational Television Centre on Broadcast Drive in Kowloon Tong by September. The eviction would affect more than 90 staff members, according to the broadcaster.

RTHK Educational Television Centre. File photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The notice came after the broadcaster ceased its production of educational television programmes at the end of March, RTHK reported.

According to the government budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, RTHK’s financial provision for the production of its educational television programmes and six department employees expired in April.

The staff members were transferred internally to other posts and have not been laid off, RTHK reported, quoting its Head of Corporate Communications and Standards Amen Ng.

Ng told HKFP that the deadline for eviction was still under negotiation with the Education Bureau.

“We have expressed [a desire] to extend the return date to [the] first quarter of 2021, most likely in March,” she said, adding they had not yet estimated the cost of moving and must prioritise relocating staff.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui said the broadcaster has been strained for resources and the short notice has further complicated their situation.

“It is outrageous,” he said, adding that facilities for studios and editing rooms were much needed.

“The government has acted like a property developer evicting tenants. It is ruthless and unkind. The Government Property Agency owns a lot of properties. There is no need to force RTHK out in a rush. It raises questions over whether the government move is a politically-motivated attempt to oppress and punish RTHK.”

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Rachel Wong

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.