Lawmakers want answers on axed radio hosts

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 November, 2011, 12:00am

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The controversy over RTHK's axing of two popular radio hosts has deepened, and legislators will ask the RTHK's chief to explain the decision at a panel meeting next month.

Director of broadcasting Roy Tang Yun-kwong is expected to appear at the December 12 meeting of the information technology and broadcasting panel to brief lawmakers on why RTHK wants to dump Robert Chow Yung and Ng Chi-sum.

Panel chairman Wong Yuk-man said yesterday the RTHK decision, which the station had wanted to keep secret but was leaked, might have implications for freedom of speech and RTHK's editorial independence.

'It is a very unusual move and RTHK's handling of the issue is very suspicious,' Wong said.

Leung Ka-wing, head of the public affairs unit of RTHK's Chinese-language radio programme division, denied that politics was behind the move, which he said had started taking shape a year ago.

He also said the station had planned to make public the changes around Christmas.

Leung, who also co-hosts the morning programme Talkabout with Chow, said: 'We shall have a reform of our programmes. And one thing is that we like the hosts to be more like a moderator, instead of leading the discussion in the programme.'

Chow has hosted Talkabout with Leung for 12 years. He is widely regarded as a conservative, or pro-government. Ng, who has been in journalism for 30 years, has hosted the Open Line, Open View for more than seven. He is known for his pro-democracy stance and has been a prominent target of the leftist camp.

Chow and Ng were invited to lunch with RTHK senior management on Tuesday, where they were told they would be off air after next month under a programming reform, of which, Leung said yesterday, Chow and Ng had been kept posted. But Ng said he had not known of any formal discussion of reform.

'Even if they want changes, I still think I can play the role well as a moderator,' Ng said.