Veteran Hong Kong journalist and commentator Steve Vines has announced he will leave public broadcaster RTHK’s Wednesday morning radio programme Backchat.

Vines mentioned his departure during the show on Wednesday, after Ming Pao reported that RTHK’s English TV programme The Pulse, which he hosts, was axed. However, Vines told HKFP he had received no official notice from the broadcaster as to whether the current affairs show’s final edition of the season would air on Friday as planned.

Steve Vines
Steve Vines. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The public broadcaster said in response to HKFP’s enquiries that it “reviews and updates the programming strategies on different channels from time to time,” which could include adding new programmes or removing existing ones, and adjusting schedules or season breaks. Its spokesperson did not address whether The Pulse has been removed from its programming and said it will not comment on the resignation of individual service providers.

“People who work on the programme will be the last to know,” Vines said, adding that he will show up to the formerly live programme’s recording session on Thursday unless told otherwise.

While the current season for The Pulse will end on Friday, there is no indication on whether coming seasons will be renewed, Vines said.

Last week, an HKFP opinion article by Vines won an honourable mention at the annual Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) awards for excellence in opinion writing.

‘My own decision’

On his departure from Backchat, Vines said it was his own decision to resign.

“I would like to thank you and indeed all the colleagues at RTHK. It’s been an enormous pleasure to work with you, and of course our listeners who are always the most important people in the radio station,” Vines said towards the end of Wednesday’s morning programme.

Steve Vines
Steve Vines. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

“But we happen to be discussing the first anniversary of the national security law today. It seems to me that for somebody who is more critical, the time to remain at RTHK has ended, so with great regret, but reflecting great pleasure over the years, I’d better go,” he said.

Vines, a regular contributor to HKFP, was dropped from RTHK 3’s Morning Brew programme as a regular current affairs commentator in April after appearing on the show for more than ten years. Instead he began appearing as a guest co-host on current affairs programme Backchat on weekday mornings.

More shows axed

RTHK also appeared to have axed two popular shows from its Chinese public and current affairs programming just this past week – namely RTHK Talk Show and RTHK31 This Week. Its veteran journalist Allan Au was also fired from hosting the show Open Line Open Talk, following a long series of other programmes and episodes taken off air since March. The broadcaster has refused to confirm the removal of the two shows in media enquiries although they have disappeared from its online schedule.

HKFP has reached out to RTHK for comments.

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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.