RTHK veteran Cheung Man-sun gets ready to step down

RTHK's deputy chief says Hong Kong deserves editorially independent public broadcaster as he prepares to step down after four-decade career

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 5:33am

A broadcasting veteran of 40 years, Cheung Man-sun says Radio Television Hong Kong is now enjoying the "best of times", with abundant opportunities, and that debates over political pressure and editorial independence would always go hand in hand with its role as a public broadcaster.

The outgoing assistant director of broadcasting will bid farewell to the media outlet he joined at the age of 19 on Friday, the same day it celebrates its 85th anniversary.

Cheung embarked on his career at RTHK as a news presenter in 1973, but was best known as a disc jockey who led the trend of playing Cantopop music on radio shows in the 80s. He rose through the ranks and became the longest serving veteran in RTHK's management.

"Going through the thick and thin, it's been largely an enjoyable career," Cheung told the South China Morning Post. "Hong Kong people deserve a public broadcaster, just like the BBC in Britain and NHK in Japan."

RTHK has been embroiled in a string of controversies in recent years, with director Roy Tang Yun-kwong - a government administrative officer appointed to take charge in 2011 - at the centre of the storm. In April, Tang lashed out at two of RTHK's leading public affairs programmes, Headliner and City Forum, and has since been accused of compromising the station's editorial independence.

Cheung said the public broadcaster has no choice but to live with the ongoing debate over political pressure and its remit as an independent broadcaster.

"It is true that we are funded by the government, but our mission is never serving the government. We serve the public," he said. "It will take time to develop the sense [to cherish] the role of a public broadcaster, for both the government and the public."

After four decades, Cheung remains upbeat about the future of RTHK.

Digital audio broadcasting services are in place, and the broadcaster is about to start running its own TV channels. Starting next month, it will launch community broadcasting to serve ethnic minorities, and it is also running a project to manage the rich archive it has built up over the years. But the biggest project of all will be moving into a new broadcasting centre by 2018.

"For our younger colleagues, now is the best of times as they will have many opportunities ahead," Cheung said.

He said he plans to take a three-month holiday abroad with his wife, Candy Chea Shuk-mui, also an RTHK veteran, after he retires.