RTHK to revise costs of new headquarters

Broadcaster says it has to expand if it is to meet programming needs of new digital channel

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 January, 2014, 3:10am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 January, 2014, 4:42am

RTHK aims to take a revised plan for its new headquarters to the Legislative Council this month after lawmakers rejected its HK$6.1 billion funding request on Friday.

The station revealed the plan yesterday as it geared up for the launch of its new digital channel RTHK TV31 on Sunday.

Deputy director of broadcasting Tai Keen-man said that without the planned new building in Tseung Kwan O, it would be difficult for the broadcaster to offer programmes to fill the channel throughout the day.

He said the public broadcaster was now looking at different options including cost reduction before taking the amended proposal - to be completed within two weeks - back to Legco.

The HK$6.1 billion request rejected by Legco's public works subcommittee last week was almost four times the 2009 estimate of HK$1.6 billion.

While declining to spell out details, assistant director of broadcasting Forever Sze Wing-yuen said construction costs constituted the biggest part of the expense. "We have been in discussion with the Buildings Department over this," Sze said.

Tai said the new channel would enable RTHK to show its programmes on its own channel for the first time, rather than on TVB or ATV. Programme production would increase from 700 hours this year to 1,300 hours next year, with Sunday's annual Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Award Concert kicking off the service.

From Monday, there would be eight and a half hours of content broadcast on weekdays and 131/2 on weekends, with 30 minutes of English programming every day. In addition, some acquired variety programmes such as current affairs show Vanguard and travel programme Somewhere on Earth would be available in both Chinese and English.

Two new drama series would be broadcast next week, as well as the restored classic Below the Lion Rock series.

The station had aimed to broadcast around the clock from 2018, but, with the new headquarters in question, this was now in doubt.

Only residents of buildings with communal aerials upgraded for digital signals can watch the new channel.

Those who have yet to upgrade can watch live broadcasts online or through the mobile phone app RTHK Screen.