Race caller doesn't fancy odds of return

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 12:00am

One of Hong Kong's most popular racing broadcasters lamented the probable loss of live coverage on RTHK where he has been a commentator for the last 14 years.

Ma Yun-chi entered RTHK's broadcasting booth at Happy Valley's race track last night not knowing if he would ever return there to present another show for the radio station.

The radio station has said it is considering scrapping the live coverage or changing the format.

'I'm not optimistic,' Ma said shortly before joining his colleagues on the eighth floor of the Jockey Club building to cover the final night of this year's racing season. He said RTHK management had told them on Sunday to expect to hear next week if they would be back next season.

'If the nature of the programme changes, if it is not an integral part of RTHK, I think it means we are not very secure in our jobs,' he said.

Ma, who has been a racing commentator on RTHK since 1991 when he was hired after two presenters quit, said he had received e-mails from fans in the United States and Canada who said they listened to his commentary over the internet. 'They say they will be very disappointed if we do not broadcast [horse racing] and may quit horse racing altogether.'

Unlike other RTHK colleagues who were originally hired on civil service terms, Ma has a yearly contract, but he was worried that a permanent job may no longer be available at the station.

Even if RTHK decides to give the programme a stay of execution until the end of the next racing season, which begins in September, Ma was not upbeat about the chances of it continuing indefinitely.

Ma also appears on RTHK Radio 2's cultural programme Free as the Wind every Sunday.