Hong Kong’s public broadcaster RTHK has denied replacing an episode of a TV documentary series about the proposed shake-up of the city’s electoral system following local media reports that it had been axed.
Jonathan Yip, head of corporate communications and standards at RTHK, denied that the elections episode was replaced – with another show on the carers of dementia patients – which aired on Monday, but refused to elaborate.
Local media reported that the episode of Hong Kong Connection which featured interviews with several pro-establishment figures was scheduled to air on Monday. The producer of the episode has resigned after the episode was axed, a person with knowledge of the matter confirmed with HKFP.
Stand News reported that the episode included interviews with figures such as Eric Yeung, who ran in the Legislative Council election in the information technology functional constituency, and barrister Lawrence Ma, who is a member of the pro-Beijing party DAB and committee member of the China Law Society.
In March RTHK introduced an editorial committee which included Li and senior station management to “strengthen editorial management.”
Yip also said a “referral mechanism” in the public broadcaster would ensure “that the programmes comply with the Charter and the Producers’ Guidelines.”
Ma told HKFP that he “fully appreciated the management’s decision” and that he respected the station’s insistence that Hong Kong Connection will be “apolitical” and “focus on livelihood rather than political issues.”
Ma said that he talked about the China Law Society’s role in Hong Kong in the interview with RTHK, describing the content as “politically sensitive.”
On March 30, Beijing passed legislation to ensure “patriots” govern Hong Kong. The move reduced democratic representation in the legislature, tightened control of elections and introduced a pro-Beijing vetting panel to select candidates. The Hong Kong government said the overhaul would ensure the city’s stability and prosperity. But the changes also prompted international condemnation, as it makes it near-impossible for pro-democracy candidates to stand.
RTHK has been under fire from the pro-Beijing camp over the past year for alleged bias in its reporting. Since the Director of Broadcasting, Patrick Li, took office on March 1, at least three episodes of Hong Kong Connection have reportedly been axed, including one about online media financed by public donations.
RTHK said it will “formulate a code of conduct applicable to RTHK members in or out of the course of their work” in a document submitted to the Legislative Council on Tuesday.
“RTHK will also review and improve the administration and arrangement of its non-civil service contract staff and Category II service providers to ensure administrative efficiency and costeffectiveness.”
The public broadcaster also said that it will broadcast more programmes “engendering a sense of citizenship and national identity.”
“RTHK will clearly target the public purposes and mission under the Charter, which include promoting the understanding on ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and its implementation in Hong Kong…” the document read.
RTHK was criticised for keeping no clear records of its decision-making process on controversial and sensitive matters, while channels handling complaints were said to lack “sufficient transparency” in a government report published in February.