RTHK chief Roy Tang may ditch Legco TV show

Veteran politician Allen Lee suspects political motive at work; union also voices concern

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 November, 2012, 3:25am

Legco Review, one of the longest-running public affairs shows on RTHK, could be replaced in the first major shake-up of programmes since the broadcaster appointed a new chief last year.

According to a person familiar with the situation, Director of Broadcasting Roy Tang Yun-kwong proposed in a recent internal meeting that the 26-year-old show could be scrapped to make way for a one-on-one interview programme.

The idea prompted veteran politician Allen Lee Peng-fei, a host of Legco Review, to suggest there was a political motive.

It is Tang's first major move on programme arrangements since he took up his post in September last year, an appointment that was hotly criticised by station staff because he had no broadcasting background. Less than three months into his job two popular hosts of phone-in shows Open Line, Open View, and Talkabout, were told their contracts would not be renewed.

"He said Legco Review has duplicated with other public affairs programmes, such as Headliner, and wants to replace it with a new programme format like that of On the Record on TVB," the source close to RTHK said.

On the Record is a live programme produced by TVB since July in which reporters interview politicians about hot topics.

Legco Review made its debut in April 1986. It is the only TV show dedicated to reporting on the Legislative Council.

Some members of the production department had voiced counter proposals, including scrapping Police Magazine. Tang had agreed to consider this.

The chairwoman of the RTHK Programme Staff Union, Janet Mak Lai-ching, confirmed Tang's idea was discussed in a meeting.

"We did produce several one-on-one interview programmes in the past and [Tang's idea] is not something new," she said. " Legco Review has its reasons to stay because it provides the perspective our audiences expect from a public service broadcaster."

Mak said they did not oppose new programme ideas. "But it is rare for a new programme to replace an existing one abruptly."

Allen Lee urged Tang to "think thrice". "He should not give the public the impression that he is undertaking a political assignment," he warned.

An RTHK spokeswoman said: "A decision has yet to be made about which time slot to run the new programme."

Legco Review stirred controversy in 2009 when it reported on the 20th anniversary of the June 4 crackdown and compared China to the collapsed Eastern European communist bloc. RTHK later said it had no intention of advocating anti-communist views.