Hong Kong’s publicly funded broadcaster is requiring employees to foot the production costs of programs that management pulls from airing due to “improper” content, as concerns remain over perceived government attempts to wipe out editorial independence at the station.
Officers would see up to half of their monthly salaries, pensions or other remuneration deducted to cover the costs if their programs failed to get past senior management for containing “unauthorized” information, the RTHK said on Tuesday in a reply to Apple Daily’s inquiry.
The broadcaster, as a government department, was under the scope of the Public Finance Ordinance, which stated that officials could levy a surcharge on civil servants who improperly incurred expenditure, it said.
Under the ordinance, the affected civil servants can be spared the surcharge if they give a satisfactory explanation to the financial secretary. They also have the right to appeal to the chief executive within 30 days after being notified of the fee.
Apple Daily first reported the planned penalty last month. At the time, the RTHK fell short of confirming the purported charge, saying only that it had taken new steps to enhance editorial management and to ensure that its programs met requirements.
The RTHK has since last month withdrawn a number of programs before airing, after Patrick Li, a government bureaucrat, was appointed to be the department’s director.
Those programs included an episode of the award-winning documentary series “Hong Kong Connection” that explored student activism in universities, and an episode from the political show “LegCo Review,” about the city’s Legislative Council.
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