RTHK’s award-winning Hong Kong Connection programme aired an episode on Monday featuring the underground Bishop Hill reservoir, which has recently been classified as a Grade 1 historic building after people discovered Romanesque arches there and pressured authorities into suspending their demolition work.
A report by Ming Pao quoted RTHK sources as saying that the Hong Kong Connection team had been ordered by management to pull a video credit given to Sham Shui Po district councillor Kalvin Ho – who had provided footage of the reservoir to the broadcaster. The team also removed Ho’s voice in the clip.
The report quoted sources as saying that, while RTHK management did not explain its decision to pull the video credit, it is believed that it was related to the fact that Ho had been charged with subversion under the security law.
Ho — a Sham Shui Po district councillor — is one of the 47 pro-democracy figures facing national security charges for their involvement in last year’s Legco primaries among the pro-democracy camp.
Ming Pao also reported that RTHK staff are not allowed to interview the 47, except for the purpose of news reporting, and they would need to give sufficient reasons if they would like to interview six other pro-democracy figures, who had also been arrested for their alleged roles in the primaries but were not charged.
In the episode in question, the footage provided by Ho is captioned as “provided by the audience”.
An RTHK spokesperson would not comment on the matter.
The spokesperson said in order to strengthen “editorial management”, and to respond to suggestions by the government’s review report on the broadcaster, the Director of Broadcasting and the station’s senior executives have introduced a new mechanism to make editorial workflow smoother, and to make sure programmes will comply with the RTHK Charter and its Producers’ Guidelines.
The spokesperson added that relevant internal discussions would be relayed to staff at different levels through work meetings, to make sure colleagues comply with the guidelines and produce their programmes more effectively.
In response to an RTHK enquiry, Kalvin Ho confirmed that the footage in question was provided by staff at his office, while he was being remanded in custody.
He said his staff and the production crew of Hong Kong Connection agreed at the time not to use his name in the show, to avoid any possible effect it may have on the ongoing national security case.