RTHK chief does not belong: producer

Broadcasting director under fire as leaked e-mail that sparked concerns of editorial interference is verified as coming from him

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 March, 2013, 5:33am

The producer of RTHK's satirical TV show Headliner has questioned the authority of the government's broadcasting director Roy Tang Yun-kwong - who was yesterday confirmed as the author of a leaked e-mail expressing "serious concerns" on a proposal to use Nazi characters in the programme.

Tang, who is due to attend a staff meeting tomorrow to address concerns that he is interfering in editorial independence, was also attacked by a former senior executive at the broadcaster who called on employees to force his resignation.

Liu Wai-ling, Headliner's executive producer, told a Commercial Radio programme that Tang's actions had plunged RTHK into a state of internal friction. She said there had been much "noise" within the station since he took office, in September 2011. "I would not consider [Tang part of RTHK]. If you ask me personally, I would not consider it so," she said.

In the leaked e-mail from Tang's office to acting assistant director of TV and corporate business Forever Sze Wing-yuen, the broadcasting director "reiterated his serious concern" about using Nazi characters, including Adolf Hitler, in the new series of Headliner.

"Your attention was drawn to the likelihood and grave consequences of RTHK censured for being insensitive and disrespectful to victims (and their relatives/ descendants) of the Nazi regime," the e-mail said.

Tang also requests Sze to prepare a report detailing how the idea came about and how staff planned to dispose of the Nazi costumes or photos taken, if any.

Sze's promotion to a permanent post as assistant director is now said to have been blocked by Tang.

An RTHK spokeswoman confirmed the leaked e-mail had come from Tang's office, saying that as the broadcaster's chief editor, he had a responsibility to look after production.

Janet Mak Lai-ching, chairwoman of RTHK Programme Staff Union, said it was "unprecedented" for management to require staff to explain a preliminary idea and said it was suppressing freedom of creation.

Liu said her team had put forward the Nazi idea during a meeting which Tang also attended. She said Tang had reminded them it would be a sensitive subject and the team had revised the idea. She said she had not expected Tang to have such a big reaction afterwards.

Franklin Wong Wah-kay, Tang's predecessor, said it was normal for the broadcasting director and RTHK's frontline staff to have different views on handling public affairs programmes.

"It has happened in the past. The storm is growing bigger this time partly because Sze is unlikely to be promoted to a permanent post," Wong said.

Meanwhile, Benny Cheung Kwok-leung, the former head of RTHK's current affairs section, called on staff to refuse to co-operate with Tang and to force him to resign. "I would no longer claim any relationship between Tang Yun-kwong and the broadcasting director … because he is not qualified ... Even primary school pupils know his decisions are illogical," he said.

The RTHK spokeswoman also confirmed yesterday that radio show Go West, which often criticises the government, will be axed next month "as planned".