Hong Kong Government Shakes up RTHK Public Broadcaster

The Hong Kong government has replaced the head of broadcasting at publicly-owned Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK). It also published a report that lambasted the operator for poor internal controls and lack of editorial accountability.

The broadcaster, which is technically a government department, has been criticized by the city’s pro-Beijing camp for much of the past two years. It has been accused of bias against the Carrie Lam government and against the police.

On Friday, the government announced that veteran journalist Leung Ka-wing had resigned several months ahead of the scheduled August expiry of his contract.

“The time has come for me to bid you farewell. These past 5 ½ years of serving RTHK and society with you have been indelible, and I am grateful for every moment,” said Leung in message to staff.

The government said that it had been unable to find a suitable successor from within the media industry. In his place, it has appointed deputy secretary for home affairs, Patrick Li Pak-cheun.

The report’s biggest criticisms concerned editorial management and complaints handling.

“The report has identified quite a number of inadequacies in RTHK’s governance and management. RTHK needs to make improvements in its system and execution,” said the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau. “Improvements should include establishing a clear and transparent editorial process, and strengthening editorial training to ensure all its staff and program production personnel have a full and comprehensive understanding of its public purposes and mission as a public service broadcaster. They should understand the Charter and abide by it.”

The broadcaster has been the target of repeated criticism from government quarters for matters including a satirical show which lampooned the police; investigative reporting that turned up evidence of police inadequacies at the Yuen Long train station assault; and a reporter’s persistent questioning of a World Health organization executive.

In recent days, the broadcaster has been criticized by the pro-democracy camp. While Hong Kong is not normally subject to mainland Chinese media regulations, RTHK terminated its live relay of BBC World Service radio within hours of China banning BBC World News TV channel. RTHK has refused to explain who took the decision.

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