Home Today Hong Kong’s Transfer to Overhaul Broadcaster Followers Fears of Media Crackdown

Hong Kong’s Transfer to Overhaul Broadcaster Followers Fears of Media Crackdown

HONG KONG — The Hong Kong authorities on Friday known as for the town’s public broadcaster to be extra tightly supervised by government-appointed advisers, in what pro-democracy activists say is the authorities’ newest transfer to restrict freedom of the press.

The federal government issued a 157-page report accusing Radio Tv Hong Kong, an outlet that has usually reported critically on officers, of missing transparency and objectivity.

The report got here hours after the federal government introduced that the pinnacle of the general public broadcaster would go away his put up six months early. His alternative is a civil servant from exterior the broadcasting service with no journalism expertise.

For supporters of Hong Kong’s beleaguered pro-democracy motion, RTHK’s troubles signaled the destiny of unbiased journalism below an intensifying crackdown on dissent. Usually in comparison with the BBC, the broadcaster is government-funded however is promised editorial independence in its constitution.

Hong Kong’s communications authority final 12 months ordered the broadcaster to self-discipline staff on a political satire program after ruling {that a} skit had insulted the police power. (This system itself was later suspended.) In August, RTHK removed a podcast that featured an interview with a widely known activist after the authorities warned that it might violate the safety legislation.

Three months later, the police arrested Choy Yuk-ling, an award-winning RTHK producer who had made the documentary in regards to the mob assault.

One outstanding institution lawmaker has advised that RTHK be folded into the federal government’s public relations division. Professional-Beijing figures have filed hundreds of complaints in opposition to the station and staged protests exterior its places of work.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief govt, mentioned this month that the variety of substantiated complaints in opposition to RTHK in recent times was “unacceptable.”

“My place is that RTHK tremendously must be improved,” she mentioned. “There are numerous issues in Hong Kong that have to be set proper.”

The government’s report was the product of a seven-month evaluation, which officers announced final spring in response to “broad public concern” in regards to the broadcaster’s efficiency. The evaluation was led by a senior civil servant, Jessie Ting Yip Yin-mei, whom Mrs. Lam mentioned was often called her “favourite.”

The report known as RTHK’s editorial processes “significantly insufficient” and mentioned that there was no clear mechanism to make sure “correct dealing with of delicate/controversial points.” It additionally accused RTHK of providing “no assurance” that public complaints had been investigated impartially.

It criticized the broadcaster for not actively in search of recommendation from its government-appointed Board of Advisers. The board is led by figures with close ties to Beijing.

The report mentioned that RTHK ought to maintain written information of how protection selections are made, domesticate a stronger relationship with the advisory board and make sure that the editor in chief performs a extra lively function in shaping protection.

Some marvel how that extra lively function will play out below the newly introduced head, Patrick Li. Whereas the departing editor in chief, Leung Ka-wing, had labored as a reporter and editor at a number of information organizations, Mr. Li, presently the deputy secretary for house affairs, doesn’t have a journalistic background.

The federal government didn’t clarify Mr. Leung’s early departure however mentioned that his contract had been “resolved early by mutual consent.”

In a short observe to staff, Mr. Leung wrote that he was grateful for 5 and a half years main the station and was at peace regardless of some turbulent instances, in response to a Facebook post by RTHK.

Edward Yau, the Secretary of the Commerce and Financial Improvement Bureau, mentioned at a information convention on Friday that RTHK had been led by non-journalists earlier than. He mentioned the division, which oversees the broadcaster, had sought an inner successor however didn’t discover a appropriate candidate.

Mr. Yau added that the editor in chief wouldn’t be solely accountable for steering programming, although he criticized the present management for adopting a “extra passive function.”

The report’s findings had been framed as suggestions reasonably than orders, and officers mentioned there was no set timeline for enacting them. RTHK mentioned in a statement that it could “fastidiously examine and observe up” on the report.

Mr. Yau emphasised that RTHK would preserve editorial independence. However, he added, “there’ll by no means be editorial autonomy with out accountability, freedom with out restraint.”

Elsie Chen contributed analysis from Seoul, and Liu Yi from Beijing.

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