RTHK Loses Fight for Independence in Hong Kong

 

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses

regret at a decision by Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economics Development Bureau

against reshaping Hong Kong’s public

broadcaster, Radio and Television Hong Kong (RTHK), as an independent media

outlet.

 

The

bureau announced on September 22 that RTHK would remain in its current

structure as a government department. The decision follows more than two decades

of campaigning by RTHK and the public for the broadcaster’s independence.

 

The bureau’s

announcement said the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative

Region, Donald Tsang, would be responsible for appointing a new board to

provide editorial policy advice to RHTK. It said the board would not intervene

in RHTK’s day-to-day operations.

 

New plans

for an RTHK-run television channel and a channel for the Central Government

Broadcasting in mainland China

were also made known in the announcement.

 

However,

members of RTHK’s staff raised concerns about the influence of the new advisory

board over the broadcaster’s content and editorial policy.

 

“I think

the public will question its credibility and neutrality,” RTHK staff union chairwoman

Janet Mak said.

 

“As the

influence of heavy censorship and regulation from the mainland creeps further

into Hong Kong, it is crucial that Hong Kong

maintains a voice and a media that upholds press freedom and the information

needs of its people without restriction,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

 

“The

maintenance of public service journalism in Hong Kong relies upon public

media’s independence from political agendas of the Hong

Kong administration and the mainland’s Central Propaganda

Department.”

 

The IFJ

calls on the Commerce and Economics Development Bureau to reconsider its

decision in favour of encouraging a more open and democratic space for

independent journalism in Hong Kong.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in

120 countries worldwide