Watchdog slams RTHK over scrapped Headliner show - RTHK
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Watchdog slams RTHK over scrapped Headliner show

2021-01-28 HKT 18:11
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  • The Communications Authority says a segment of the show hinted that police officers are seen as trash. File photo: RTHK
    The Communications Authority says a segment of the show hinted that police officers are seen as trash. File photo: RTHK
The communications watchdog has again “strongly advised” RTHK to more closely observe codes of practice, after finding that complaints levelled against the now-scrapped political satire show Headliner were justified.

However, the Communications Authority (CA) also dismissed a number of complaints made against the programme, including claims it glorified crime, shouldn’t have been broadcast during family viewing hours, and that it had been in bad taste.

The authority said it had received a total of 44 complaints against episodes of Headliner aired on February 28, March 13, and April 20 last year.

A number of complaints referred to a segment involving the show’s presenter emerging from a rubbish bin dressed as a police officer.

"Such portrayal was deliberate with the intention, obvious to general viewers, to insult and to convey the prejudice hinting that police officers were a group of people who were seen as trash, were revulsive and spurned,” the CA said.

It said similar portrayals were already found to have had the effect of being "denigrating and insulting to police officers as a social group" in another episode aired on February 14.

The CA also criticised the programme for failing to give a police officer the chance to respond, after captions such as "fake news" were superimposed over footage of him speaking at a district council meeting in its March 13 episode.

"Such presentation gave the impression that the police officer was telling lies and making fake news, and had an effect of adversely affecting his reputation," the authority said.

RTHK said it accepts the CA’s ruling, and said it would continue to strictly adhere to the relevant codes of practice.

Production of the long-running programme was halted last June after the regulator’s earlier warning about the show. The Hong Kong Journalists Association and RTHK’s Programme Staff Union have applied for a judicial review over the CA’s ruling.