HONG KONG: Robert Chua airs RTHK vision

Veteran broadcaster says RTHK should allow air time for government propaganda

South China Morning Post
Monday, April 16, 2007

By Jimmy Cheung

RTHK should transform into the proposed new public service broadcaster and give a third of its air time to government propaganda, veteran broadcaster Robert Chua Wah-peng has suggested.

Parties from across the political spectrum would take up a third of the time, with the remaining time filled with programmes like those currently produced by RTHK, he said.

Mr Chua, who has been in broadcasting for 44 years, was responding to proposals by a government-appointed review committee that RTHK should not be changed into the future public service broadcaster.

The Singaporean-born TV producer helped establish TVB in the late 1960s and introduced Hong Kong's first live variety show, Enjoy Yourself Tonight, as well as the Miss Hong Kong beauty pageant. He is chairman of the Interactive Channel in Hong Kong, whose programmes are available on multiple media channels.

Mr Chua said Director of Broadcasting Chu Pui-hing had been doing a good job.

He suggested retiring all RTHK staff and allowing Mr Chu to rehire only the best talent to work for the proposed broadcasting corporation.

"It's true that some civil servants are overpaid and non-productive," Mr Chu said. "A broadcasting corporation should have a free hand to fire such people."

He said the new body should be given a free TV channel and take up a third of air time with its own programmes, with the remaining two-thirds split between government and different political parties.

"What's wrong with having a government mouthpiece? The government needs its own platform to explain its policies. People can choose other programmes if they don't want propaganda," he said.

Mr Chua, 61, said the review committee had never solicited his views during the 14-month consultation.

Panel disbanded after public broadcasting report

By Albert Wong

The future of RTHK may be uncertain, but the status of the government-appointed panel that issued a report on public broadcasting could not be more final - it has been disbanded.

A spokeswoman for the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau confirmed yesterday the Committee on Review of Public Service Broadcasting was officially disbanded on the day it issued its report, March 28. The report came under fire from RTHK union leaders and pan-democratic legislators after it proposed a new public broadcaster be created, while failing to mention the future of RTHK.

News that the panel had been disbanded sparked criticism from unionist legislator Lee Cheuk-yan who had tried to invite the panel members to a forum organised by pan-democrats to discuss the report.

"At first, I received a letter from the bureau saying they would be too busy. But then when I called, they told me they had been disbanded and would not attend. They have a duty to explain their report to the public," Mr Lee said.

He faxed a letter yesterday to Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Joseph Wong Wing-ping requesting an explanation of why members could not attend the forum and whether another official from the bureau could represent them.

The forum, organised by the 25 pan-democratic legislators will be held next Saturday in the Mong Kok pedestrian precinct and Mr Lee hopes to invite RTHK representatives and academics.

A bureau spokeswoman yesterday said members of the committee would attend a panel meeting at the Legislative Council next month to discuss the report.

Yesterday, members of underground station Citizens Radio presented gifts to Janet Mak Lai-ching, of the RTHK Staff Union, to express their support.