TVB boss backs news chief's handling of police 'beating'

Lawmakers criticise change to Ken Tsang story, but boss supports Yuen Chi-wai's judgment

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 October, 2014, 3:55am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 October, 2014, 3:55am

TVB supports its news chief's "professionalism and judgment" in handling a report on a group of policemen allegedly beating an Occupy protester on Wednesday, the broadcaster's boss says.

Mark Lee Po-on, the station's executive director and group general manager, was responding to a letter from pan-democratic lawmakers Claudia Mo Man-ching and Gary Fan Kwok-wai, criticising TVB news chief Yuen Chi-wai for allegedly ordering part of the report removed.

The report includes graphic footage taken by a TVB film crew during an overnight police operation to clear a road near government headquarters in Admiralty. It appears to show seven officers taking turns kicking and punching Civic Party member Ken Tsang Kin-chiu as he lies on the ground in a darkened recess.

The original report on the alleged attack, aired on TVB on Wednesday morning, said officers had "carried [the protester] to a dark corner, put him on the ground, punched and kicked him". But that part of the voiceover was removed for a few hours and then replaced with another one at noon saying that officers were "suspected to have used excessive force".

In a separate, open letter on Wednesday, 27 journalists from TVB's news department said they disagreed with station management's judgment on the report.

Lee wrote, in reply to Mo and Fan, that "extra care is needed when reporting an incident that could involve criminal liability".

"The company respects and supports the news department chief's professionalism and judgment, and we won't accept any act of pressure … We also won't tolerate other people, hostile media or some so-called media unions or associations [weighing in] either," he wrote.

Lee also rounded on TVB staff for secretly recording an internal meeting between Yuen and the news department on Thursday.

In an email sent to all staff, he wrote: "This is a despicable, cowardly act. … It destroys the management's trust in employees.

"We can't rule out … some colleagues being used by people outside the company who are trying to damage our operations and reputation," he wrote.

In two audio clips - of 7 and 26 minutes - posted anonymously on YouTube yesterday, a man believed to be Yuen asks "On what grounds can we say [officers] 'dragged him to a dark corner, and punched and kicked him'? Are you a worm in the officer's stomach [to know the police] deliberately did this?

"We can say that if we ask the person who was attacked and the one who dragged him [about what happened]," the man says.