Handle broadcaster with care, RTHK's Tang is told

Exco convenor says under-fire RTHK director Roy Tang must be mindful of its duties - and that his is no ordinary government job

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 March, 2013, 10:02am

The Exco convenor has weighed into the escalating row at RTHK, saying its broadcasting director should exercise caution in his role as it is different from heading up other government departments.

Lam Woon-kwong was speaking for the first time on the public tussle between the broadcaster's staff and director Roy Tang Yun-kwong.

The Executive Council chief said Tang should attend to RTHK's duties as the city's public broadcaster, which is free to comment on the government.

Tang's open criticism of editorial processes has sparked fury at RTHK. He blocked a proposal to use Nazi characters in popular satirical show Headliner and attacked the "contradictory" reasons given by City Forum producers for using empty seats to represent absent officials in a TV debate about the now-shelved national curriculum plans.

Asked to comment yesterday, Lam said: "The director of broadcasting's duty is different from other [government] department directors. He needs to consider RTHK's responsibility as a public broadcaster. It has the power to review and comment on even government actions and remarks … [He] certainly needs to handle his complicated role carefully."

Lam urged Tang and RTHK employees to open the lines of communication and improve their relationship.

Meanwhile, City Forum host Joseph Tse Chi-fung fired a warning shot in an open letter to Tang, published in Ming Pao newspaper yesterday: "We do not stir up trouble but we are not timid."

He wrote that the recent incidents showed Tang was unsure about editorial matters and did not trust his staff. But Tse said that Tang could solve the problem simply by staying out of editorial decisions.

On the director's strained relationship with employees, Tse wrote: "Please treasure this relationship. Stop these unreasonable and strange ways of editorial thinking and return to appropriate decentralisation of power."

Tang made a public apology after meeting staff on Friday over the recent disputes, but he refused to step down.

Also on Friday, Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said she had issued a letter to the Legislative Council's broadcasting panel, demanding a hearing.

Separately, about 100 protesters voiced their support for Tang outside RTHK's Kowloon Tong headquarters yesterday. They were from pro-government groups Voice of Loving Hong Kong and Caring Hong Kong Power. They said Tang was giving constructive advice to staff, not interfering in editorial decisions. Voice of Loving Hong Kong's Patrick Ko Tat-pun said: "RTHK gets its funding from the government and that means the government is the boss. How come the staff always criticise the boss?"