RTHK staffers ‘may be probed and asked to pay’ for unsuitable programs

Published (HKT): 2021.03.28 05:10

Staff members at Hong Kong’s public broadcaster who produce programs deemed unsuitable by management may be investigated for negligence, Apple Daily has learned.

They may also be required to pay production fees for the aborted programs, according to a source at RTHK.

This “disciplinary mechanism” was targeted at not only people working on “Hong Kong Connection” and other current affairs shows, but also those who were with cultural and educational programs, the source added.

The teams behind “Hong Kong Connection” and “The Screening Room” were told that if they refused to change programs according to management’s requirements and did not stop producing shows found to be unsuitable, management would start an investigation.

If the results of the investigation found staffers had acted with negligence, they could expect to face consequences, such as taking responsibility for the production costs of programs that were not broadcast.

The source said that this system was only in its preliminary stage and had not yet been explained in concrete detail.

A spokesperson for RTHK reiterated that editorial and personnel issues were internal affairs of the broadcaster, and RTHK would not comment publicly.

Some production staffers said the cost of producing a show was sometimes hard to measure, since the station used a mixture of civil servants and contractors. They estimated that filming a half-hour program over seven days might warrant HK$21,000, which would not include post-production costs or the time spent brainstorming ideas.

News of the disciplinary move emerged after commerce minister Edward Yau announced that a new editorial management system had been introduced at RTHK, a government department. The system will be led by the broadcaster’s director, who has no prior media experience.

Lawmakers discussed the system at a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday. Eunice Yung of the New People’s Party asked Yau about measures to monitor the embattled station.

Yau replied that RTHK had started implementing measures recommended in a government review report to enhance its editorial management, devise a clearer editorial process and improve its compliance-handling mechanism.

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