Court upholds police insult ruling against RTHK - RTHK
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Court upholds police insult ruling against RTHK

2021-11-25 HKT 18:22
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  • Judge Anderson Chow upheld the authority's finding that RTHK breached the TV Programme Code by denigrating or insulting police on the basis of their social status. File photo: RTHK
    Judge Anderson Chow upheld the authority's finding that RTHK breached the TV Programme Code by denigrating or insulting police on the basis of their social status. File photo: RTHK
The High Court on Thursday upheld the Communications Authority's finding that an episode of the RTHK show Headliner insulted the police. But the judge rejected the authority's ruling that the show failed to present a broad range of views.

RTHK Programme Staff Union and the Journalists Association challenged the Authority's findings over two segments aired in the political satire show in February last year.

One sketch involved a presenter emerging from a rubbish bin dressed as a police officer to say that officers would no longer be at risk of Covid infections as foot patrols had been cancelled. Another implied that police had a healthy stock of protective masks while medics lacked equipment.

Judge Anderson Chow upheld the authority's finding that RTHK breached the TV Programme Code by denigrating or insulting police on the basis of their social status.

But he overturned the finding that Headliner failed to present a broad enough range of views, noting that the police declined or ignored invitations to respond.

The judge found that the comments on protective equipment did not breach accuracy rules, but the remark about police patrols did.

He added that there's no dispute that Headliner is "in the nature of a satire".

But Chow said that fact does not answer the question of whether it should be classified as a personal view programme for the purpose of the TV Programme Code.

He said although the views of the hosts were not expressed in the classic format of such programmes, it is clear that they were expressing their own views on social, political or current affairs issues, although in a satirical and exaggerated manner. He said he did not consider the Communications Authority was wrong to treat the show as a personal view programme.

The Hong Kong Journalists Associaition (HKJA) said it respects the court's decision.

"It gives a fair valuation to the production team at RTHK. However, the programme, Headliner, no longer exists," the chairman of the HKJA, Ronson Chan, said.

RTHK also reached out to the Police Inspectors' Association but its chairman, Wilkie Ng, said he did not want to comment.