Digital Broadcasting resumes service

Troubled broadcaster's new head says policy direction remains unchanged on government

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2013, 4:32am

Dispute-plagued Digital Broadcasting Corporation resumed service yesterday with a "neutral stance" which the new station head said would include criticising the government.

Francis Mak Yun-sau said the station's policy directions had not changed. It was not banned from criticising the government and the only instruction from Beijing-loyalist shareholder Bill Wong Cho-bau was to maintain freedom of expression.

"Whether it is views expressed during private conversation with me, or [on air] criticising the government, we will not ban them. This will never change," the veteran on-air moderator said.

The Communications Authority also yesterday announced approval for DBC's application for shareholding changes, but imposed a HK$200,000 fine on it for its service disruption from October 21 to January 11, which breached its licence conditions.

The authority had considered suspending its licence but decided it would be against the listening public's interests after DBC guaranteed to resume full service from yesterday.

The station was forced to stop broadcasting in October after a shareholders' row involving allegations of political interference.

The dispute was settled after co-founder Albert Cheng King-hon sold his stake to Wong. Cheng remains an adviser despite opening online radio station D100 at the end of last year with many former DBC staff.

The city's first digital radio broadcaster has been re-established in the past three weeks with at least 30 new programme hosts and 30 other newly recruited staff. Mak hopes to increase the workforce to 100.

Almost all of DBC's original staff - also around 100 - were dismissed when it shut down at the end of last year.

The new DBC01 channel, launched yesterday, will have eight to nine programmes seven days a week while DBC05 will have music and programmes for ethnic minorities like Filipinos and Indians.

The other five channels will broadcast music.

The station's new programmes include a current affairs phone-in programme hosted by political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu and several veteran journalists on weekdays from 5pm to 8pm.

"Whether to be moderate or radical is the choice of individual hosts," Mak said. "Basically, our station's stance is neutral."