The Government today released the Governance & Management of Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) Review Report and outlined the major findings and recommendations on improvement measures. RTHK is not only a government department, a public broadcaster, but also a radio station that serves Hong Kong people. Editorial autonomy is, therefore, extremely important. Otherwise, it will be just an official mouthpiece and will not be able to perform its role of Fourth Estate in monitoring the government. HKJA is extremely concerned about the content of the report, especially as the free press space in Hong Kong is getting narrower. We are concerned that the report’s recommendations will further conscribe editorial independence of RTHK.
The review report pointed out a number of problems and deficiencies in RTHK’s editorial management, personnel, finance, and complaints handling. We are worried that the issues raised by the CEDB through the report will be fully controlled by the newly appointed Director of Broadcasting, using administrative means to clamps down on editorial autonomy, leading to greater self-censorship.
The report also mentioned the need to strengthen the role of the advisory committee, but the members of the committee are appointed by the government. It is not difficult for people to think that the management will begin to interfere in the operations of RTHK on behalf of the Government. If the Government intends to strengthen RTHK’s accountability to the public, it should broaden the representativeness of RTHK’s original program advisory group.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
19 February 2021