Reprieve for RTHK's Legco report
After leak, broadcast chief scraps proposal to ditch his station's only programme dedicated to covering Legislative Council proceedings
RTHK chief Roy Tang Yun-kwong yesterday backed down from his controversial suggestion to scrap the TV programme Legco Review, a source said.
He nevertheless plans to press ahead with his proposal for a new one-on-one interview TV programme, which will begin broadcasting next month as scheduled, the source, a person familiar with the situation, said.
The U-turn on Legco Review came a day after the South China Morning Post reported that Tang wanted to scrap the show, a proposal he made during an internal meeting. That proposal sparked speculation about an underlying political motive, while a staff union voiced concerns.
According to the person familiar with the situation, Tang decided at a senior management meeting yesterday that the new programme, to be based on TVB's On the Record, would not replace any existing public affairs programme. That means both the 26-year-old Legco Review and the 39-year-old Police Magazine will remain on the city's free channels during prime time.
But Tang reportedly insisted that the new interview programme should go ahead, in a prime-time slot, probably replacing documentaries or dramas.
While Tang's desire for the new show remains unexplained, his motive may be to give government officials a platform. At an RTHK board of advisers' meeting in May, some members suggested live public affairs programming from street locations. Principal officials could take part and even host programmes about their bureaus, they said.
The Post reported yesterday that Tang was planning his first major shake-up of programmes, including ditching Legco Review, the city's only TV show dedicated to the Legislative Council.
Tang, a government official since 1987, was previously a deputy secretary for labour and welfare. He was appointed director of broadcasting in September last year, leading to protests from staff dismayed at his lack of experience in the media industry.
An RTHK spokeswoman said Tang, as the station's chief editor, was responsible for making programming decisions, and that the launch date of the new show had not been decided.
Janet Mak Lai-ching, chairwoman of the RTHK Programme Staff Union, said they would continue to watch for any moves that would interfere with RTHK's role as a public-service broadcaster.
"This controversy has happened because RTHK is led by a non-professional," she said. "Even a junior production staffer would understand that Legco Review cannot be replaced by an interview programme."
Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan said it made no sense for RTHK to produce a programme duplicating the TVB show. " Legco Review may not be a top programme in terms of viewership, but its coverage of Legco is exactly what a public service broadcaster should bring."