Strikes threaten BBC on Wharf
By ANDY GILBERT
A JOURNALISTS' strike in Britain is threatening production of BBC World Service Television, which is to be carried by Wharf Cable's new international channel next month.
A deal between the BBC and Wharf Cable was signed in the territory yesterday, with coverage beginning on June 11.
But unionists in the UK have threatened two 24-hour strikes a week, until their demands over pay and conditions are met.
Hugh Williams, BBC World Service Television programming director, admitted the industrial action could hit Hong Kong viewers.
After signing the deal, Wharf Cable managing director Stephen Ng Tin-hoi said he was unaware of the strikes.
''These things happen from time to time,'' he said.
The agreement will mean four hours of news and current affairs per day on Wharf Cable's independent channel which began transmission on Monday - an hour from 7 am, noon, 6 pm and 10 pm.
At weekends there will be an additional two hours between 9 am and 11 am.
The deal will bring the service back to Hong Kong after what will have been a six-week break since it was dropped by Rupert Murdoch's STAR TV.
It is widely believed that Mr Murdoch dumped the service because the BBC's editorial independence might have prejudiced his moves into the Chinese market.
Mr Ng said he was not concerned about possible problems with China.
''Cable is a pay TV service and our main market is Hong Kong. If we don't survive in Hong Kong then we don't survive,'' he said.