Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK has fired a pro-democracy radio host as part of what it says are plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of its radio channels.

Tsang Chi-ho, former host of RTHK satire show Headliner, was told that he was fired from the RTHK Radio 2 talk show after he came off air on Friday.

Tsang Chi-ho
Tsang Chi-ho. Photo: Tsang Chi-ho, via Facebook.

Tsang’s co-host, Jackie Chan, was also laid off and another host, Wilson Ching, was also taken off the show. RTHK told HKFP that the move was part of the station’s plan to launch the remastered version of the show.

“RTHK often reviews its programmes’ contents, staffing, and programming arrangements. The arrangement this time was a programme change made in coordination with the 40th anniversary of the launch of RTHK Radio 2,” said the public broadcaster’s Corporate Communications and Standards Unit.

Following his sacking Tsang told reporters that while he had been able to make some mental preparations for his possible departure “based on the political environment,” he did not expect to “implicate” his co-hosts.

“I knew that the changes made in RTHK are too big, when a bird’s nest is overturned no eggs can remain intact, I knew it was just a matter of time for me and my radio work,” said Tsang.

The host said that as he and Chan were hired on a freelance basis, they were essentially fired from the public broadcaster when they were told to leave the show as the pair did not have other ongoing programmes in RTHK.

Tsang said that because Ching has a civil service contract he will be able to remain at RTHK.

‘Non-mainstream values’

Tsang was also part of the station’s longest running political satire TV show, Headliner. The programme was axed in June last year after the show received complaints, including from the commissioner of police, and was also investigated by the Communications Authority.

RTHK Headliner Ng Chi-sum Tsang Chi-ho
Headline hosts Ng Chi-sum (left) and Tsang Chi-ho (right). Photo: RTHK screenshot.

When asked the reason behind his firing, Tsang said that he guessed it was because of his political views.

“I have continued to talk about not-so-very mainstream political values in various media and platforms,” said Tsang. “I think that has violated their [RTHK’s] political atmosphere.”

Apart from his show in RTHK, Tsang also writes for the pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily, and has an online political commentary YouTube channel.

Tsang’s exit from RTHK is the public broadcaster’s latest move in a series of sweeping changes since Patrick Li took over as Director of Broadcasting on March 1. RTHK has been under fire from the pro-Beijing camp over the past year for alleged bias in its reporting.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.