Supporters and critics of RTHK duelled on Thursday over a Communications Authority decision that free-to-air TV stations no longer need to air the public broadcaster’s programmes, and as TVB immediately dropped some from its schedule.
Just a day after the order was issued, TVB axed RTHK's Legco Review programme from Thursday evening's 6pm slot.
Initially a Japanese cartoon was slated to be aired instead, but a programme on cyber security in Estonia was unexpectedly broadcast.
RTHK's controversial satire programme "Headliner", which has riled police officials, has also been dropped from TVB's Friday line-up.
Some critics of RTHK, under the banner of the "Public Broadcaster Concern Group", meanwhile held a demonstration outside Broadcasting House in Kowloon Tong, accusing the station of being biased.
The group's convenor, Thomas Pang, said during phone-in programmes, RTHK presenters only ask people about the police's use of "excessive force", and not about violence by protesters.
The demonstrators said they welcomed the Communication Authority's decision. One of them, Martin Fong, said being as RTHK has its own channels, "it is not reasonable to occupy the time on TVB".
The small crowd also handed over a complaints letter to RTHK officials.
But RTHK's supporters said the broadcaster is being persecuted because the authorities are upset with the Headliner show.
They said the government is trying to silence critical voices, jeopardising press freedom.
Two pro-democracy groups – the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL) and the Democratic Party – held demonstrations outside the Communication Authority office and handed over petition letters opposing its decision.
The ADPL's vice-chairman, Kalvin Ho, said TVB should continue to air RTHK shows, or pay back spectrum utilisation fees that had been exempted.
The Democratic Party's Ramon Yuen said the policy change is to lower RTHK programmes' ratings, which may lead to less funding from the government.
One of the party's lawmakers, Roy Kwong, said he will follow up the matter in Legco being as the legislature was not consulted by the authority.