Published: 02:01, May 21, 2020 | Updated: 02:11, June 6, 2023
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‘Freedom of expression’ an unfit fig leaf for RTHK’s Headliner
By Staff Writer

There has been a scripted response of even more political bias from the opposition camp after the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB) asked Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) on Tuesday to take action over the Communications Authority’s decision regarding complaints about its TV programs the previous day. The CEDB asserted that an episode of the RTHK TV program Headliner, aired on Feb 14, was in breach of multiple provisions of the Generic Code of Practice on Television Programmes. The opposition camp is of course very upset about the government warning against RTHK, because RTHK is one of its primary platforms for biased propaganda against the government, particularly against the police, and it cannot care less about the public complaints in this case.

RTHK is a public service provider owned and funded by the SAR government with taxpayer money. It is therefore bound by a specific code of conduct for all media entities as well as relevant laws that government agencies must obey. As for the Headliner TV show, it is basically a mockery of journalistic values despite its Chinese name, which contains the word “news”. Its politically biased creators and presenters have relentlessly abused their media status and privileges to serve the opposition’s black propaganda campaign. That is why it has been a regular target of public complaints and warned by relevant authorities many times over the years. The opposition camp has been defending it solely on “freedom of speech” and “freedom of expression” grounds rather than on “freedom of the press” ones, because they know very well the TV program is an insult to journalism. But both excuses are no more than a fig leaf.

Indeed, Headliner is not the only regular source of controversies hosted by RTHK for years if not decades and they are all considered opposition property instead of a public service. For example, some radio talk shows hosted by staunchly anti-government commentators routinely cut short callers who do not agree with them or simply ignore opposing opinions altogether. Not surprisingly, such inflammatory outbursts reached a hysterical pitch during the illegal campaign known as the “black revolution”, which started in the first half of last year with the now-withdrawn extradition law amendment bill as an excuse. It turned violent and deadly.

 As a result, many people have long given up trying to reason with people running the show and have been demanding the privatization of RTHK instead. Although many Hong Kong residents do not agree with this rather defeatist approach, they feel equally frustrated if not more so. They have kept pressing relevant authorities to address such abuses and bias according to existing rules, including the Generic Code of Practice.