Driven speechless by Foreign Correspondents’ Club media rumpus

It’s not the job of news organisations to give Hong Kong National Party boss Andy Chan Ho-tin a free platform on which to promote his secessionist agenda

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 August, 2018, 7:45pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 August, 2018, 10:22pm

The farce over a speech by secessionist Hong Kong National Party boss Andy Chan Ho-tin has become more bizarre.

RTHK, the government broadcaster, has been accused of censorship for not planning to live-stream Chan’s speech on Tuesday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

It’s not like RTHK is not covering the controversial event online and for its radio and television services. When was the last time RTHK, or any local broadcaster, live-streamed anyone’s entire political speech?

I don’t recall anyone doing it even for President Xi Jinping or a US president. Stations almost always show excerpts. It’s just preposterous to broadcast live the speech of some two-bit politician in its entirety, however controversial he may be.

You can, after all, watch the whole speech and its question-and-answer session live on the FCC’s website and Facebook page.

But the Hong Kong Journalists Association cries foul; so does the RTHK Programme Staff Union and some activist scholars from various universities – all because Director of Broadcasting Leung Ka-wing sent out a memo saying there would be no live-streaming. But why just round on RTHK?

Cut the FCC some slack in speaker storm

Every news group in Hong Kong could be accused of censorship if that’s how it goes. Are the Hong Kong offices of the BBC, Reuters, and The New York Times planning to live-stream Chan’s entire speech? If not, it’s censorship!

In fact, RTHK was the first major public media group to invite Chan as a panellist to talk about the government’s threat to ban his party at its weekly City Forum. That was long before the FCC invitation came to light. The City Forum clip has been viewed more than 31,500 times on YouTube, not counting the number of views on RTHK’s own website. Strangely, that event passed without fanfare. Yet, with the FCC, it’s suddenly a big deal.

The whole row over live-streaming has been an excuse to round on RTHK management and Leung himself, who is seen as not being sufficiently “independent”.

The opposition, and that includes the yellow-ribbon journalists’ association, is bent on creating an impression of pervasive censorship and repression in the furore over Chan.

Even if you think there should be no censorship against Chan and his party, which faces being banned by the police and Security Bureau, it’s hardly any media group’s journalistic responsibility to promote his separatist agenda and offer him a free platform.