Hong Kong’s public broadcaster has suspended a satirical show hours after the Communications Authority (CA) issued it with a warning for “insulting” the police force.

The statutory body’s ruling on Tuesday referred to a February episode of RTHK’s Headliner: “The CA took the view that the complaints in respect of [the] accuracy of factual contents, denigration of and insult to the Police, and expression of a sufficiently broad range of views in personal view programmes were substantiated,” it said.

RTHK Headliner
RTHK’s Headliner has received complaints after airing a controversial episode. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, which oversees the Communications Authority, said the station must accept the CA’s findings, investigate any cases of negligence by staff and conduct a full review.

“RTHK must fully abide by the Charter of RTHK, duly meet its responsibility as a public service broadcaster and strictly comply with the relevant codes of practice issued by the CA,” a government spokesperson said.

RTHK. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Headliner sparked a row after an episode aired on February 14 jokingly implied that police officers had more protective gear than other frontline government agencies and medical staff amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The episode received more than 3300 complaints, according to Ming Pao, while several protests were staged by pro-Beijing groups outside RTHK’s headquarters.

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A spokesperson for the broadcaster reportedly apologised to police officers and all others who were offended. The station said the series will halt after the current season as it conducts a review and studies how to develop the show “in an ever-changing social environment.”

Tom founded Hong Kong Free Press in 2015 and is the editor-in-chief. In addition to editing, he is responsible for managing the newsroom and company - including fundraising, recruitment and overseeing HKFP's web presence and ethical guidelines.

He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He previously led an NGO advocating for domestic worker rights, and has contributed to the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Al-Jazeera and others.