Govt orders full review, public account from RTHK - RTHK
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Govt orders full review, public account from RTHK

2020-05-19 HKT 19:03
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  • RTHK has been told to address concerns raised about its programmes, management and governance. File photo: RTHK
    RTHK has been told to address concerns raised about its programmes, management and governance. File photo: RTHK
The government on Tuesday issued Radio Television Hong Kong with a list of demands including a full review of its editorial system, an apology, and disciplinary action against any staff found to have committed mistakes or "negligence".

The statement from the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB), which oversees the public broadcaster, came after the Communications Authority gave the station a warning over a February episode of the satirical show Headliner that had mocked the police force.

"The CEDB took the view that the situation is very serious given that RTHK, as a public service broadcaster, has been repeatedly ruled to have breached the various provisions in the [Television Programme] Code, including failure to ensure the accuracy of the factual contents in the programme; remarks and content regarded as hate speech, denigrating and insulting the police; and failure to include a sufficiently broad range of views in the personal view programme."

The bureau then said it had asked RTHK to undertake several measures, the first being to state clearly that it fully accepts the Communication's Authority's decision regarding Headliner and to offer an apology.

The CEDB said RTHK should examine whether there is "any negligence and error committed by staff and personnel in the course of the programme production and editorial processes, and, if so, to follow up or take disciplinary actions".

In addition, it demanded a full review of the programme production and editorial system to make sure shows fulfil the public purposes and mission specified in the station's charter.

"The secretary for commerce and economic development has been stressing that RTHK must fully abide by the Charter of RTHK, duly meet its responsibility as a public service broadcaster and strictly comply with the relevant codes of practice issued by the CA," the statement said.

"RTHK should address the concerns raised by different stakeholders on its programmes, management and governance. It should take positive and proactive follow-up actions and give an account to the public."

The warning from the Communications Authority had been RTHK's second in a month, after the station was found to have made multiple breaches of the TV Programme Code regarding the show Pentaprism, where a guest host gave his views last November on clashes between police and protesters at Chinese University and Polytechnic University.

Last month, the CEDB also said that RTHK had breached the "One China" principle by asking the World Health Organisation if it would reconsider Taiwan's membership in light of the Covid-19 outbreak.

RTHK has faced repeated allegations that it has been biased in favour of the city's pro-democracy protesters since Hong Kong's social unrest erupted last June.

Police Commissioner Chris Tang said the broadcaster was undermining the work of his officers and that its output could lead to a breakdown in law and order.