RTHK breached rules with free-TV 'propaganda'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 August, 2014, 4:50am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 August, 2014, 4:50am

An RTHK documentary on the government's refusal to grant a free-to-air licence to Hong Kong Television Network breached rules on impartiality, the Communications Authority announced yesterday.

The independent statutory body made its decision after receiving three complaints about Not Only a Dream, broadcast on TVB Jade last October as part of its Hong Kong Connection series.

Complainants accused the programme of being a "propaganda tool", where every interviewee criticised the government's decision and local drama productions, and no opposing views were given for balance.

In the documentary, HKTV staff and performers, a member of the authority's own Broadcast Complaints Committee, a scholar and a social media group spokesman were interviewed.

There was also footage of HKTV chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay making speeches, and the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung was shown refusing to comment. So's predecessor was also seen commenting that free-TV licence applications were welcome.

The authority ruled that the episode breached rules on impartiality under the TV programme code of practice as it failed to present the views of some "key stakeholders" in the government's decision. The two free-TV broadcasters, TVB and ATV, both opposed HKTV's application.

An RTHK spokeswoman said it viewed the government as the main stakeholder in the decision as it was the target of HKTV supporters' criticism. She said the programme makers had invited government officials to comment but were turned down.

"We had impartiality in mind when making the documentary," she said.

The authority told RTHK to observe the programme code more closely.