Director of Broadcasting Leung Ka-wing on Thursday sought to reassure journalists at RTHK that a ban on live-streaming an upcoming talk by independence advocate Chan Ho-tin was not in any way a suppression of press freedom.
Leung said the station has "never given live coverage of a speech by a politician in the past", and RTHK "should not be used as a platform to advocate Hong Kong independence."
Chan is due to speak at the Foreign Correspondents' Club next Tuesday, at a time when his Hong Kong National Party faces a ban under the Societies Ordinance.
In response to media reports, RTHK's head of corporate communications, Amen Ng, quoted the director of broadcasting as saying that it is okay for the station to report on the controversial talk, but not to broadcast the actual speech as that would give Chan "a platform to promote his views."
Ng also quoted Leung as saying at a regular management meeting that RTHK "cannot violate the Basic Law".
The chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, Chris Yeung, said the broadcasting chief's decision was both deeply regrettable and concerning.
"It seems politics has overridden professional news judgement and this has raised concerns about self-censorship", Yeung said.
He added that RTHK management appears to have given a decision from the top, rather than letting journalists decide what type of coverage is needed for a news story of public interest.
Former Chief Executive CY Leung has led criticism of the planned lunch talk, after Foreign Ministry officials asked the FCC not to allow Chan to speak there.
Hong Kong's last governor, Chris Patten, also waded into the controversy, saying it was "quite simply wrong" for Beijing to intervene in the FCC's affairs.