Public broadcaster announces move amid controversy over ending live calls of horse racing RTHK will for the first time contract out radio programmes this year to provide opportunities for private programme makers. Assistant director of broadcasting Tai Keen-man made the disclosure yesterday amid controversy over the public broadcaster's decision to stop the live broadcasting of horse racing. Mr Tai said the station had used its 'professional judgment' when making its decision but he added the Legislative Council had played an 'important role' in the process. He vowed to uphold editorial independence, however, saying the public consensus was that RTHK should not be the government's mouthpiece. Speaking on an RTHK programme, Mr Tai said the station had maintained a good partnership with the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau, while denying the two were 'standing on opposing sides'. He also said RTHK's agreement with the government, to be renewed next month, was comprehensive and neither the broadcaster nor the bureau planned to amend it. When asked about the controversy stirred by RTHK dropping its live broadcast of horse racing, Mr Tai said: 'I don't see any problem with my decision.' But he admitted the station should communicate with the public more effectively. 'In recent years, our TV session has contracted out quite a few programmes,' he said. 'The main reason is that we hope to provide opportunities for the public to appreciate the programmes made by good producers.' Mr Tai said RTHK had discussed its plans with the bureau, which had encouraged and supported the move to contract out some programmes. 'In the second half of this year ... our radio station will for the first time contract out our programmes, which means that we will provide resources to those people who are keen on making programmes, whose products will then be broadcast on our radio station,' he said. Mr Tai later told the Sunday Morning Post they planned to invite those interested in producing the programmes to submit their plans in September or October. He also said on the programme that the decision on horse racing was related to programming, but that some legislators suggested it was a policy matter. This had been reflected by the Legco panel on information technology and broadcasting since January, when it declared horse racing and RTHK's Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Award as 'policy issues'. Asked whether he was willing to make outspoken talk-show host Raymond Wong Yuk-man an offer, Mfr Tai promised to explore the possibility of co-operation and praised his credentials as a broadcaster. In response to his comments, Legco panel deputy chairman Albert Cheng King-hon said the panel had never reached any conclusion on horse racing broadcasts. 'He shouldn't make use of us to explain their acts,' he said. Priscilla Lau Pui-king, a deputy to the National People's Congress, said that while the government could continue providing funding to RTHK, it should also be allowed to compete for advertising revenue.