Commercial Radio chief takes up job as adviser amid editorial row

Commercial Radio chief takes up job as chief adviser to focus on current-affairs programme as government moves to regulate broadcasters

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 February, 2014, 3:47am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 February, 2014, 3:47am

Commercial Radio chief executive Stephen Chan Chi-wan has changed his role to chief adviser, admitting that government moves to regulate editorial-like programmes in broadcast media was one of the factors.

Announcing his move, which took effect yesterday, Chan said he wanted to focus on hosting his current-affairs programme.

Chan's sudden move followed a public row between him and popular host Li Wei-ling after he moved her off prime-time current affairs show On a Clear Day in November and took it over himself.

It also came as the Communications Authority launched a two-month consultation to ask whether broadcasters should be allowed to air their station's editorial stance.

One of the proposed amendments is to regard the views of the "person providing the service" - including the stations' directors and principal officers - as the views of licensees.

Chan, who joined Commercial Radio in 2012 as chief executive, said he had taken this into consideration "but not as a main factor" in his decision. "I personally do support the proposed amendments of the Programme Codes … [as] there should be rules [to regulate broadcasters' editorial programmes]."

He said it was difficult for him to act as the radio's chief executive and daily programme host at the same time.

"I am very happy to devote myself entirely to the work of current affairs commentary," he said.

He said that the move had nothing to do with the station's impending licence renewal.

He said no one would succeed him as chief executive. Daily management would continue to be overseen by general manager Rita Chan Ching-han.

The change that saw him take over On a Clear Day and Li move to evening programme The Tipping Point had boosted the hit rate of both programmes on smartphones, Stephen Chan said.

Li, an outspoken critic of the government, accused Chan of not consulting her on the switch and said he had once threatened to fire her if she refused to accept the deal.

Asked if their relationship still remained tense, given that Li did not attend yesterday's event, Chan shook his head.

"I don't think so. I gave her a box of chocolates as a Christmas present," he said.

Li continued to challenge Chan on Facebook.

"Is it normal for a CEO to host a radio programme? Is assigning a CEO to host a show 'a normal move'?" she asked. "It is freezing out there, especially in the journalism industry."