RTHK censorship claims unfounded

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 May, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 May, 2000, 12:00am

Your reader S. J. Broadhead (South China Morning Post, May 20) alleged that the problem with the BBC World Service on May 16 was not, as we said at the time, a technical breakdown but an attempt by RTHK to censor a story on Taiwan.

Mr Broadhead's accusations are completely unfounded. RTHK never has, and never will, tamper with World Service broadcasts in Hong Kong. There was a 33-minute interruption to the World Service satellite feed from London that afternoon. The BBC was immediately informed and confirmed the problem. We tried to fall back on short wave, but that too was out. During the interruption, the World Service was scheduled to broadcast a music programme followed by an educational programme. I am therefore curious as to how Mr Broadhead came to link the breakdown to a story on Taiwan and thereby coming to the conclusion that we were attempting to censor it.

We recognise that many people in Hong Kong listen to the World Service and we, too, are concerned with the rather frequent breakdowns in World Service satellite relays from London and have told the BBC so. Only three days before the Tuesday interruption, we met the head of the World Service for Asia-Pacific and told her of the problem and of our worries of listeners' likely perception of the breakdowns, in the light of Hong Kong residents' sensitivity to any erosion of freedom of information and expression.

JAGJIT DILLON Head of English Programme Services Radio Television Hong Kong