Hong Kong people rushed to save copies of RTHK programmes on Monday as the station began removing shows from the internet, with a journalism academic warning that the broadcaster's move will allow the authorities to create their own version of history.
RTHK noted that it has long removed news stories and programmes from its official website after a year, and said deleting material from YouTube that is older than 12 months is consistent with this policy.
Hong Kong Connection documentaries and episodes of axed satirical show Headliner were among the first to be taken down from the free video platform.
"After [RTHK] was painted red by [director of broadcasting] Patrick Li, all its contents will be removed from the shelves. To ensure history will not be forgotten, internet users have decided to upload the programmes here," said a statement posted on an online platform called "SaveRTHK."
The web page already contained a number of episodes of Headliner, which RTHK killed off last year following complaints by the police and warnings from the Communications Authority.
Bruce Lui, a journalism lecturer at Baptist University said RTHK may well be the owner of the programmes, but removing them from the internet is against the public interest and is a waste of taxpayers' money.
"News is the first draft of history and also the public can look at it afterwards and learn what happened in the past. If we delete those records, it's sort of clearing the history so that the public won't have a very good picture of what happened," he said.
Lui linked the removal of various programmes to the social unrest of 2019.
"The government and Beijing are trying very hard to create their own version of history, so they can have their mainstream definition and it will also take away embarrassment and wrongdoings of the government," he said.
"In the future, people will only know the government's version, without knowing the civilian version of history."
The lecturer said with the advancement of technology, he doesn't see any difficulty in keeping the programmes online for public viewing.
He added: "Taxpayers paid that money not just for their temporary purpose, we assume that that money would be used to maximise the [programmes'] value."