RTHK chief urges calm among staff after audit report

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 April, 2006, 12:00am

The head of RTHK yesterday called for calm among staff, a day after the Audit Commission issued a report criticising the public broadcaster for a culture of non-compliance with government regulations.

Director of Audit Benjamin Tang Kwok-bun denied the report was part of a political ploy against RTHK.

He said the amount of revenue lost was relatively small, but the sum could escalate if left unchecked. Mr Tang said: 'We have a duty to point out the problem - in the work as auditor.'

In a letter to RTHK staff, Director of Broadcasting Chu Pui-hing urged his colleagues to contain their emotions. The auditor's report is seen as a further blow to staff morale on top of the government's launch in January of a review of public broadcasting policy.

'The management team and myself are conscious of the likely impact of all these developments. Let's act - and react - calmly and professionally,' Mr Chu said.

In the report issued on Wednesday - the second from the commission since its critical probe in 2001 accusing RTHK of a lack of efficiency - the broadcaster was criticised for failing to follow government regulations, overspending on programme production and failing to adequately control staff overtime payments.

Mr Chu said the public had been 'generally satisfied' with RTHK productions.

He addressed the view that as a media organisation as well as a government department, RTHK faced difficulties resolving contradictions between the two roles. 'Naturally, everyone would wish that the flexibilities required for a media operation could be found in the civil service rules and regulations. Unfortunately, we are not living in that ideal world,' Mr Chu said.

A government accountant and an auditor will begin work at RTHK on Tuesday and June 1 respectively to review its performance. RTHK's staff union said it would request meetings with the two about their concerns.

Janet Mak Lai-ching, chairwoman of the RTHK Programme Staff Union, said staff morale was low and Mr Chu's letter could not address their concerns.

They hope RTHK management will communicate their concerns with the auditors.