Director of Broadcasting Leung Ka-wing said on Thursday that it was his decision to scrap RTHK's relay of the BBC World Service and pull a weekly Chinese-language BBC programme, saying he was responding to the mainland's new ban on the UK-based broadcaster.
Leung told a meeting of senior staff that he ordered RTHK's move on Friday after the mainland's National Radio and Television Administration announced that BBC World News could no longer continue its service "within Chinese territory".
"Hong Kong is part of China and Radio Television Hong Kong is a department of the HKSAR Government. The decision has nothing to do with news operations," the director of broadcasting said.
Earlier in the day, a former chairman of RTHK's Board of Advisers, Eugene Chan, said although he believed RTHK's move was just a "programming change", he thought Leung should explain the decision.
The European Union was among those criticising both the mainland's ban on the BBC and RTHK's similar move, saying RTHK's decision reflected a further erosion of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.
Beijing last week said the BBC's reporting was not "truthful and fair," harmed China's national interests, and undermined national unity.
Its ban on the public broadcaster came after the UK's media regulator revoked the licence of CCTV's overseas channel CGTN, noting that the licence holder did not have editorial responsibility for the station's output.