Hong Kong’s Move to Overhaul Broadcaster Fans Fears of Media Crackdown
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong government on Friday called for the city’s public broadcaster to be more closely monitored by government-appointed advisors, pro-democracy activists say, the latest move by officials to limit freedom of the press.
The government released a 157-page report accusing radio television Hong Kong, an outlet that often reported severely at authorities for lack of transparency and impartiality.
The report came hours after the government announced that the head of the public broadcaster would be released six months in advance. His replacement is a civil servant from outside the broadcasting service without any journalistic experience.
For supporters of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, RTHK’s troubles indicated the fate of independent journalism as a sharp response to dissent. Often compared to the BBC, the broadcaster is government-funded but its charter promises editorial independence.
Communications Authority of Hong Kong last year Ordered In order to discipline staff on a political satire program, the broadcaster decided that a skit had insulted the police force. (The program was later suspended.) In August, RTHK Deleted a podcast This is shown in an interview with a well-known activist after being warned by authorities that it might violate the security law.
Three months later, the police An award-winning RTHK producer arrested Cho Yuk-ling Who made a documentary about the mob attack.
A prominent establishment legislator has suggested that RTHK should be converted into public relations department of the government. Pro-Beijing figures have registered thousands of complaints against the station and protested outside its offices.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said this month that the number of complaints against RTHK was “unacceptable” in recent years.
“My position is that RTHK needs to improve,” she said. “There are many things in Hong Kong that need to be set up correctly.”
Government report Officials who was the product of a seven-month review Announced Last spring in response to a “widespread public concern” about the broadcaster’s performance. The review was led by a senior civil servant, Jessie Ting Yip Yin-Mei, who Mrs Lam said was known as a “favorite”.
The report called RTHK’s editorial procedures “grossly inadequate” and said there was no clear mechanism to ensure “proper handling of sensitive / controversial issues”. It accused RTHK of giving “no assurance” that public complaints were objectively investigated.
It criticized the broadcaster for actively seeking advice from the government-appointed advisory board. Is board Led with close ties with Beijing.
The report states that RTHK should keep a written record of how coverage decisions are made, build a strong relationship with the advisory board and ensure that the editor in chief plays a more active role in giving coverage to the editor.
Some wonder how to play a more active role under the newly announced head Patrick Lee. While editor in chief Leung Ka-wing, worked as a reporter and editor at several news organizations, Mr. Lee, currently deputy secretary for home affairs, does not have a journalist background.
The government did not explain Mr. Leung’s early departure, but said that his contract was “resolved soon by mutual consent.”
In a brief note to staff, Mr. Leung wrote that he was grateful to the station for five-and-a-half years and was at peace despite some turbulent times, according to one Facebook post by RTHK.
Secretary of the Bureau of Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, said at a news conference on Friday that RTHK was led by non-journalists even earlier. He said the department, which oversees the broadcaster, had sought an internal successor, but could not find a suitable candidate.
Mr Yau said that the editor in chief would not be responsible for steering programming alone, although he criticized the current leadership for adopting a “more passive role”.
The report’s findings were drafted as recommendations rather than orders, and officials said there was no time set to implement them. RTHK said that Statement It will “carefully study and follow up” on the report.
Mr. Yau emphasized that RTHK will maintain editorial independence. But, he said, “there will be no editorial autonomy without responsibility, freedom without restraint.”
Elsie Chen contributed to Liu Yi’s research from Seoul, and Beijing.