A regulatory complaint has been upheld against embattled public broadcaster RTHK after it referred to Taiwan as a “nation” in a story about an election poll.

On August 15 last year, RTHK’s Radio 1 Chinese service aired a story about a Kaohsiung by-election, stating that “people can cast their votes at over 1,800 polling stations nationwide.”

RTHK. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

“it is a fact that Taiwan is not a country and hence the use of the term [nationwide] is inaccurate,” the Communications Authority said.

It said the broadcaster failed in performing “rigorous checking on the accuracy of news contents,” adding that voting only took place in Kaohsiung.

“RTHK should be strongly advised to observe more closely the relevant provision in the Radio Programme Code,” the authority said, in reference to paragraph 20A which states news content must be accurate.

Taiwan has been ruled by the Republic of China government since 1945 after Japan — which occupied the island for 50 years — was defeated in the Second World War. The People’s Republic of China claims that Taiwan is one of its provinces and does not recognise it as an independent country.

RTHK under fire.

There are continued fears that RTHK‘s editorial independence 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.

RTHK. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Since a new director of broadcasting was appointed in March, RTHK cancelled programmes, scrubbed its online archivespurged its Twitter accountlaunched a chat show hosted by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, and issued directives to use Beijing-approved wording. RTHK has also seen an exodus of senior editorial staffers, with ex-TV host Steve Vines fleeing the city earlier this month.

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Tom Grundy

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