Further cuts to broadcaster's HQ budget 'illogical'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 January, 2014, 12:37pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 5:12am

Further cuts to the construction cost of the new RTHK headquarters were impossible, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung said yesterday.

So said lawmakers were acting illogically by backing the broadcaster's plans for an expanded service but denying it the money to launch them.

He was speaking at a meeting of the Legislative Council information and technology subcommittee at which lawmakers found the estimate for the headquarters unacceptable despite a 12 per cent cut to about HK$5.3 billion.

Members said this was still far more than the 2009 estimate of HK$1.6 billion.

The government's initial request for HK$6 billion was rejected by Legco's public works subcommittee on January 3.

Yesterday, So said there was no "Plan B".

Lawmakers had endorsed a plan in 2009 about how RTHK should position itself, and the new building was designed to fulfil the public broadcaster's service pledges, he said.

"They have agreed on the service pledge but rejected our funding request to realise the plan. I don't see the logic," he said.

Head of RTHK and broadcasting director Roy Tang Yun-kwong said a further cut would make RTHK unable to provide digital radio and TV broadcasting in full, or to provide community involvement broadcasting.

Elizabeth Quat, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, was unconvinced.

"Citizens do not think the government should use that much money to fulfil those goals," she said.

Separately, So clarified that the innovation and technology bureau proposed in the policy address would not incorporate Create HK, an agency set up under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau in 2009 to develop the creative economy.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying explained earlier that the bureau would oversee the Innovation and Technology Commission and the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer.

Lawmakers demanded more details, but So said the government was still working on its structure. A proposal would be tabled to Legco this year.