One of the city's biggest prodemocracy radio stations, Hong Kong Reporter, will stop broadcasting at the end of the month, its owner said last night.
Stephen Shiu Yeuk-yuen's sudden announcement came as a shock to many listeners.
The online broadcaster began as People's Station in 2004, changing its name to Hong Kong Reporter in 2005. It is seen as a key platform for young and radical voices and has helped to mobilise supporters of firebrand political group People's Power. Shiu said during his ShiuShiu Podcast last night that the station would not broadcast any new shows from March 31. It would also stop funding political groups, he said. Old broadcasts would be available on the website for a few months.
But Shiu stressed that it was not a political decision.
"It is not because of political pressure. There has been political pressure over the years and I can take it," he said. Shiu also said that although he had lost HK$15 million running the station over the years, it was not closing for financial reasons.
Rather, he said, he was disappointed with many people, including People Power chairman Christopher Lau Ga-hung, and lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, both of whom were involved with the station. Both Lau and Chan could not be reached for comment last night.
"But they were only partly responsible. Someone else should be taking the blame," Shiu said, without elaborating.
He added that he would not support any political group financially, nor would he help promote any group, including People Power and its affiliate, the Proletariat Political Institute.
People Power lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip said he was shocked by the news and that he was still on good terms with Shiu.
But he said Shiu had never "directly" financed his group. "Of course this comes as a blow to People Power. We are a unit, we are like twins," he said, adding the group would discuss the matter, including whether to set up an online platform of its own.
Shiu said he would take a break for three months before he set up a new online radio station, producing programmes on Chinese history and current affairs. But it would not be a full-time undertaking, he said.
Political commentator Ma Ngok said: "Now they have one less place to criticise the government."