Friday, 16 September 2011

Airing Out Frustrations

Yesterday Radio Television Hong Kong's new boss got an interesting greeting -- a black carpet and his staff in black protesting his appointment at the Kowloon Tong headquarters.

That's because after nine months of recruitment, the government apparently could not find anyone suitable for the job and appointed civil servant Roy Tang Yun-kwong to the position.

RTHK staff are not happy because Tang has no broadcasting experience and fear his appointment will compromise the news outlet's editorial independence.

"We have no faith in him," said union chairwoman Janet Mak Lai-ching.

However Tang took the criticisms like water off a duck's back, promising to defend the broadcaster's editorial independence against any interference.

He has spent 24 years as an administrative officer promoting government policies which is why Mak worries Tang will not understand what his new job entails. "The role of RTHK -- as a public broadcaster -- is to monitor the government's performance. This is where the biggest conflict lies."

Tang replaces Gordon Leung Chung-tai who didn't renew his contract due to health problems.

What is strange is that apparently there were six candidates in the final round -- some of whom were very experienced senior journalists.

This abrupt turn around clearly indicates the government's unhappiness with criticisms coming from RTHK and perhaps hopes this new measure will tone down angry opinions.

However the government seems to misunderstand the role of a public broadcaster -- RTHK acts in the interests of the public, not the government. It is not a government mouthpiece but a platform where all voices for and against the government can be heard.

RTHK is meant to engage the public in a two-way dialogue, not just singing the praises of the government. If the public wanted to hear one track they would have already moved to the mainland.

The broadcaster's staff are planning to take further action -- possibly a strike -- to further show their displeasure.

Tang has a tough road ahead.

1 comment:

  1. the lack of editorial independence is the lack of freedom of speech. the radio would become another mouth piece for the government.