Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Mr. Tsang has just announced that an Independent committee is set up to examine the future of public service broadcasting in Hong Kong. We take this to mean that the committee will focus on the future role of Radio Television Hong Kong. We also note that this has caused concern among staff at the station – some of whom are HKJA members.
In particular, we would urge the committee to consider the following points:
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.
Lastly, the HKJA strongly demand the committee to increase its transparency, including conduct a thorough consultation ranging from Hong Kong citizens, staff members of RTHK and private sector broadcasting. We nevertheless maintain that the government should enact legislation guaranteeing RTHK’s autonomy and editorial independence in clear and unambiguous terms.
Cheung Ping ling
Chairperson of the HKJA