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  • Aug 23, 2014
  • Updated: 11:26pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

Legislators' rebuff of budget for new RTHK home goes against reason

Robert Chua says delaying proposal for a new broadcasting centre will only add to the cost

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 12:12pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 January, 2014, 2:47am

I do not understand how lawmakers' minds work. Since it has been agreed that a new RTHK broadcasting centre will be built, the only thing legislators needed to do was make sure what is needed justified the HK$6.1 billion budget. Turning down the funding request just because it was - to quote legislator Elizabeth Quat of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong - "an astronomical sum of money" is not a valid reason.

Surely, members of the Legislative Council should only oppose the funding if they have professional justification for doing so - by showing that certain items are not essential to the building and equipping of the new centre. But there is no such justification; RTHK is not seeking to put together a "Rolls-Royce" centre. How can lawmakers oppose the cost of construction and hardware at the current market value?

They should not bicker about the high cost when that is indeed the true cost.

In any case, how does one define an "astronomical" sum of money? It depends on who you ask. To a beggar, HK$1,000 is an astronomical sum; for the man in the street, it might be HK$100 million; yet, to the super rich, HK$100 million might just cover the cost of one home they own. So it's silly to use that as a reason to reject the proposal.

This delay by lawmakers will only cost more money; unless the funding is approved by March, the present quote will expire and another round of tendering will have to take place. That will mean further delays and higher costs because of inflation and rising construction wages. There will be no end to it if lawmakers consider the HK$6.1 billion price tag astronomical.

We can all agree that Hong Kong needs to build a credible RTHK centre; it is long overdue. I am certain that the cost of the new centre is not excessive, given that it is governed by a strict tendering process.

The DAB said it was not against building bigger headquarters for RTHK. I don't believe they had a good enough reason for not approving the budget. If new headquarters need to be built, we need to accept the fact and not delay the project further with bickering.

I hope lawmakers will face the reality. It's not like we can play around with the figures; these are the facts.

In the public's mind, RTHK is the most credible TV content producer in Hong Kong; it was recently ranked the most trusted media company in Hong Kong in a survey by the Chinese University. We need RTHK to provide programmes that will counter some of the trash aired by commercial TV stations.

Veteran broadcaster Robert Chua was the founding production manager and creator/executive producer of Enjoy Yourself Tonight at TVB, Hong Kong's first terrestrial TV station, and founder of satellite TV station CETV


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the sun also rises
These so-called pro-establishment lawmakers represented by the DAB's Chung Shu-kan and others are ignorant and naive enough , not to say their biased views towards RTHK which practises editorial independence and impartial reportings of local affairs and criticisms of the governance of the SAR administration by monitoring it as a media for Hong Kong people whose tax indirectly paid for the operation of the public broadcaster which mission is to serve the public and never a mouthpiece of the government as these pro-establishment camp lawmakers expect ! Their objection of the so-called astronomical cost of the new broadcasting building in Tseung Kwun O is just an excuse only. What actually caused them to object the funding is their biased views towards the public broadcaster itself which outspokenness and impartical reporting sting their nerves !
This is again another example showing how non-sense the reasonings of our well paid Legco members are and we should not be surprised as these are voiced out by those "DAB" members. Nonetheless I do support their position and I am skeptical towards the funding needs. 6 billion is hugh amount of money and I am not able to figure out how these 6 billion investment in hardware will make a difference for Hongkong public in the future versus status quo. Secondly, what is the implication of increasing and enhancing the service in the daily operation to the RTHK annual budget?
Other than owning their own facilities, why not RTHK arrange a deal with ATV or TVB in sharing the production facility?There may be a debate in the past about the principles behind the new RTHK building design but unfortunately the general public like me is at a loss. We need more justification of the RTHK proposal against other alternatives.
Why does Hong Kong need public television? A big waste of taxpayers' money
The gov was reluctant to chop the proposed RTHK budget to avoid being accused of interfering with RTHK operations and constraining RTHK's ability to monitor the gov. The hatchet should be wielded by the LEGCO, and as representatives chosen by the people, LEGCO can throw out the budget. Indeed, the axe has fallen. Now the head of RTHK, who is appointed by the gov., would go back and tell the different RTHK factions that the PEOPLE had rejected their wishes. RTHK's doyens would have to come up with a more modest budget. Such is the political process of today and may well be the driving rationale behind this bit of political theatre.
People need to look at the value to Hong Kong. If we depreciate it over 10 years does 600 million per year make sense. When you add in staff costs and other costs it would come to something like 1 Billion per year!! I do not think that is a good way to spend public money.
I am certain that many groups sat down and all gave their dream list. it was all added together and the astronomical sum of 6.1 BN came out.
They don't need that type of $$ for this.
Robert, I dont doubt that most legislators are politically motivated and in search of headlines rather than having a view to serve HK. However the fact that the new RTHK building estimates balloned from 1.6bm to 6.1bn HKD deserves to be investigated and queried; after all do we need another TAMAR or ICAC Palace?
This article is about as mindless as the comment that $6 billion is an astronomical sum of money. The real question is why the project cost ballooned from the original budget ($1.5 billion was mentioned in another article).
Look at what RTHK is asking for and decide if it is a) a reasonable need, and b) an acceptable cost for what is being provided. Is RTHK asking for more than they need and can reasonably expect to be able to manage?

The original estimate of $1.6 billion was made in 2000 and was based on then RTHK operation mode. Thirteen years later with inflation and the need for a new operation mode to operate a TV station (instead of merely producing TV programs), adding digitisation, more radio channels, etc is this not fair?
How do you determine a reasonable need for our government to spend to provide much needed good socially responsible radio and TV programs to the public? Without good programs from RTHK to counter some of the ‘free-to-air’ degrading programs that are today polluting our society and our Chinese culture our culture will be lost and we will have a rude, rotten society! I am witnessing this degradation happening in Hong Kong.


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