Submission to Donald Tsang regarding review committee of RTHK
The Hong Kong Journalists Association notes recent media reports that a committee will soon be set up to examine the future of public service broadcasting in Hong Kong. We take this to mean that the panel will focus on the future role of Radio Television Hong Kong. We also note reports that this has caused considerable unease among staff at the station – some of whom are HKJA members.
Given that government officials are refusing to confirm or deny whether a review committee will be set up, we would impress upon you the importance of clearing the air about this matter – in particular since you made no reference to a review in your policy address.
In particular, we would urge you to consider the following points if a review committee is set up:
1) The committee should aim to strengthen public sector broadcasting, which is a vital element of the media scene in many advanced countries. It would be a regressive step, for example, to force RTHK to become primarily a promoter of government policies, as opposed to a broadcaster that airs the views of all sectors and voices in society, including the government.
2) It should include representatives who have wide experience of public sector broadcasting, and not consist exclusively or almost exclusively of representatives or former representatives of private sector media organisations who may view RTHK as a competitor.
3) It should draw on the experiences of public broadcasting in various overseas jurisdictions, including Britain, Australia and Canada. It may wish to travel to such countries, or interview representatives of such broadcasters.
4) It should consider whether the public service broadcaster can provide additional services, such as dedicated TV and public access channels and digital radio services.
5) Cost should not be a primary concern of the committee. Rather it should focus, as in the first point, on ways to improve and strengthen public service broadcasting in Hong Kong.
I hope that you can provide answers to our points above, and that you can clear the air about whether the review will take place.
Hong Kong Journalists Association