RTHK vacancies to benefit staff
By VICTORIA FINLAY
ABOUT 60 civil service vacancies are open to staff at RTHK for the first time in more than two years.
But management has denied this means that chances of corporatisation are now virtually zero.
''Corporatisation is still on hold,'' confirmed the Director of Broadcasting, Cheung Man-yee, who has always spoken out in favour of making RTHK a corporate entity, free of the government red tape that sometimes threatens to choke it.
''But that certainly does not mean that the issue has been forgotten,'' she said.
''Whether it happens before 1997 or under the Special Administrative Region government after 1997, we believe and hope that we will become a corporation, because that is the best thing for RTHK's independence.
''It just has not been the most important issue for the Government right now.'' Civil service vacancies at RTHK have been closed for more than two years while the Government has been considering the option of allowing the department to become a corporate entity.
Instead, as vacancies have come up, they have been filled with staff on one-year departmental contracts.
This employment practice has, according to insiders, caused strong discontentment at the inequalities between the civil servants, who have medical and housing benefits as well as a six-month salary windfall after they have been employed for 30 months, and the contract staff who have none of these benefits.
Ms Cheung said she hoped that the 60 or so civil service vacancies, which were expected to be mainly filled by existing contract personnel, should motivate staff.
There are presently more than 200 contract staff, out of a total of 700 personnel.
Meanwhile, the broadcaster made a formal pledge yesterday to maintain the integrity, independence and quality of its programming.
But despite the statements in RTHK's official performance pledge, its management has admitted that its budget is being cut, in real terms, every year, threatening eventually to compromise quality.
Its budget this year is a little more than $300 million, a rise of only one per cent from last year.
Ms Cheung said RTHK was also fighting to increase corporate sponsorship of programmes - which at the moment adds about $30 million to the government subsidy.
Measures to increase quality, as promised by RTHK, include a television viewers' advisory panel and listeners' advisory panels for the radio stations.