RTHK boss Roy Tang vows to press staff fears on HQ funding

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 February, 2014, 4:46am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 February, 2014, 4:46am

The head of RTHK has promised staff he will press the government to resubmit a funding proposal for the public broadcaster's new headquarters after it was scrapped under pressure from lawmakers.

The HK$5.3 billion proposal was withdrawn from Legislative Council consideration last month by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau after complaints by pro-Beijing lawmakers that the project was too expensive.

A request for more than HK$6 billion was rejected by Legco's public works subcommittee earlier in the month.

After meeting staff yesterday, director of broadcasting Roy Tang Yun-kwong said he would reflect the strong feelings of his staff to the bureau.

"We believe we should be given a chance to resubmit the project, not only to explain our reduced budget to lawmakers but also to put things on record because we think it's a very important development for Hong Kong in terms of public service broadcasting," Tang said, adding that he would convey the views "immediately".

Tang said the HK$750 million difference in the bill between the two funding proposals was "extremely sizable", and came after collaboration between management and staff.

The project in Tseung Kwan O was originally budgeted at HK$1.9 billion in 2009 and is considered vital to RTHK's plans to establish its own television channels.

Some staff have suggested that the objections from Beijing loyalists are as much about the station's willingness to criticise the government as about cost concerns.

Others have accused Tang, a lifelong civil servant whose appointment to head RTHK in 2011 proved controversial, of not doing enough to fight for the public broadcaster.

RTHK Programme Staff Union spokeswoman Bao Choy Yuk-ling said the management should convey the staff's views in a "strong and forceful" manner, adding that the union would discuss further action in future.

Asked if Tang had explained at the meeting why RTHK management did not raise objections to the decision to withdraw the funding request last month, she said it had clarified that the bureau took a firm stance, and any protest would have been in vain.