RTHK has axed the current affairs programme The Pulse, hosted by veteran journalist Steve Vines. Its last episode was aired on Channel 31 on Friday.

Steve Vines on The Pulse. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Vines told HKFP that management would not allow his team to tell the audience that it was their last show. Vines said they also cut a part of his sign-off at the end of the show when he said “in these uncertain times, who knows what the future will be… goodbye and good luck.”

The ex-Foreign Correspondents’ Club president and HKFP columnist quit the RTHK current affairs radio show Backchat last week, where he was a guest presenter. “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 think I’d better go,” he said on air.

In April, the award-winning journalist was dropped as a contributor to RTHK’s Morning Brew radio show.

All existing tweets from The Pulse have been deleted.

Embattled broadcaster

Last month, RTHK axed two popular shows from its Chinese public and current affairs programming – 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.

RTHK. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

RTHK has undergone a series of editorial shake-up since the arrival of the new Director of Broadcasting Patrick Li in March. At least ten episodes of various shows have been censored before they were broadcast, while at least five top executives have resigned or took early retirement amid a staff exodus.

The embattled broadcaster has faced a barrage of criticism from pro-Beijing figures and groups for “biased reporting” against the government and police, and was ordered by the authorities in February to tackle “deficiencies” in editorial management. In May, it deleted most of its archive from the internet.

Last week, the public broadcaster told HKFP 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.

HKFP has reached out to RTHK for comment.

Tom is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Quartz, Global Post and others.