Hong Kong’s public broadcasting service will be reviewed by the government to ensure it fully abides by the service charter and codes of practice due to “wide public concerns.”

A spokesperson for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB) on Thursday announced that a dedicated team will be set up to review Radio and Television Hong Kong (RTHK) governance and management.

RTHK. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

 “The CEDB took the view that RTHK must address the public concern over its programmes as well as the department’s governance and management,” they said. “RTHK must follow up on the matters in a proactive and positive manner, and conduct a review to ensure that it fully abides by the Charter, duly meets its responsibility as a public service broadcaster…”

The scope of the review includes “RTHK’s overall management systems, processes and practices, making reference to best practices of other public service broadcasters, to ensure full compliance with the Charter and the codes of practice on programming standards issued by the CA [Communications Authority].”

RTHK’s Head of Corporate Communications and Standards Amen Ng responded to the decision, saying the broadcaster will fully cooperate with and provide necessary assistance to the review team.

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Pro-democracy lawmaker Charles Mok, representing the IT sector, said the Audit Report was merely an excuse for the government to impose more restrictions on the public broadcaster: “[The government] is dissatisfied with certain content and wishes to impose restrictions on [RTHK programme’s] political content which will result in a compromise on their editorial, press and creative freedom…”

Two RTHK programmes addressing the police handling of pro-democracy protests previously received warnings from the Communications Authority.

The authority ruled a guest host’s criticism of the force on the programme “Pentaprism” was “irresponsible, and could be regarded as a hate speech with the effect of inciting hatred against the Police.”

Charles Mok
Charles Mok. File photo: Charles Mok.

RTHK Board of Advisors Chairman Eugene Chan said the board supported the verdict of the broadcast watchdog and was deeply disappointed in RTHK.

“We have given repeated advice to the director and the management and it is very disappointing that despite their assurance that all their programmes are complying with the Charter, we still receive a serious warning and warning,” he said.

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.