RTHK has lost its editorial independence: union - RTHK
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RTHK has lost its editorial independence: union

2021-02-19 HKT 16:31
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  • RTHK has lost its editorial independence: union
RTHK's Programme Staff Union on Friday expressed serious doubts about the appointment of bureaucrat Patrick Li as director of broadcasting, while also warning that the government's interventions have stripped the station of its editorial independence.

The government announced earlier in the day that Li will replace Leung Ka-wing as RTHK's editor-in-chief on March 1, despite his lack of experience in broadcasting.

The union’s chairwoman, Gladys Chiu, said it would have been better for someone with a media background to have been given the post, so they would be familiar with the industry's operations and standards.

She suggested that given RTHK provides a news service, someone from the journalism field would have been a good choice.

“The new chief will be an AO (administrative officer)… we are afraid that his background and knowledge of the media industry might not be sufficient,” Chiu said.

“Nowadays creativity and a sense of professionalism is of utmost importance in leading media organisations. We are afraid that the new chief’s work may not be that easy,” she added.

Li joined the administrative service in 1990 and has served in various parts of the government, including the Home Affairs Department, Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, and the Chief Executive's office.

But Chiu said his appointment as director of broadcasting is surprising and it seems like the government is trying to replace RTHK's professionalism with bureaucracy.

She added that Leung had tried his best to safeguard press freedom during his tenure, but it now seems that RTHK has completely lost its editorial independence.

The union also expressed concern about some of the recommendations of a government review report into RTHK, including putting in place a more documented and structured system for senior management to make decisions on difficult or contentious editorial issues.

The union said such a system could prevent RTHK from delivering breaking news quickly and accurately.