A fifth senior staffer at Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK has resigned, the news outlet has announced.

rthk television house broadcast headquarters logo (1)
RTHK. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

RTHK‘s Assistant Director for Radio & Corporate Programming Brian Chow, 51, will leave the government-owned media outlet on July 9, but will take leave starting May 7. Chow resigned due to family reasons, the broadcaster reported, but it is unclear when his resignation was tendered.

The departure came amidst an exodus of senior editorial staffers, while bureaucrats from other government departments were appointed to newly-created positions. There are fears that RTHK‘s editorial independence — mandated by its charter — is being eroded, as the pro-Beijing camp and the government call for major reforms at the station to ensure that it adheres to its charter and produces “unbiased” news coverage.

“We thank Brian Chow for his years of service and contribution,” the broadcaster said. Chow worked for RTHK for over three decades, where he hosted music radio programmes. He was promoted to the role of assistant director September last year and became part of a 9-person top-level editorial management team under the recently appointed Director of Broadcasting, Patrick Li.

Since Li took office, the RTHK editorial management team cancelled nine television programme episodes, and said it would charge staff for the cost of axed shows and reject media awards.

RTHK Patrick Li Pak chuen
Patrick Li Pak chuen. Photo: GovHK

The second Assistant Director for TV & Corporate Businesses Jace Au has been on sick leave, Citizen News and Apple Daily reported. Her role is now being fulfilled by Natalie Chan, who headed the education and recreation section of the broadcaster, according to the government’s telephone directory.

Both assistant directors serve directly under Li.

Chow is the fifth senior executive who quit in recent months, after the departures of Senior Executive Producer Sit Yau-Tak, Executive Producers Fong Hiu-shan and Liu Wai-ling — who resigned after refusing to sign an oath of allegiance to the government now required of civil servants — and RTHK’s Head of Public and Current Affairs Doris Wong, who resigned on the day Li arrived.

Amidst the reshuffle, RTHK added four senior positions in April filled by bureaucrats from other government departments: Two of the positions were filled by officials from the Office of the Communications Authority, while the other two were filled by a former chief secretary for Administration’s Office and a senior administrative officer of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau.

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.