RTHK is still a public broadcaster, insists CE

Chief Executive Carrie Lam has insisted that there is no “new role” for RTHK and it is still Hong Kong’s public broadcaster, amid fears the station is being transformed into a government mouthpiece.

On Monday, the station began deleting some of its documentaries and other programmes from YouTube, outraging many people who see the move as an attempt to erase the public’s memories in order to rewrite history.

Asked about the latest controversy to hit the government broadcaster, Lam said RTHK will continue to serve the public.

Lam, who currently appears several times a day on RTHK hosting a show about election committee subsectors, added that the work of the station’s management is “not a matter for the chief executive”.

“Nobody has given RTHK a new role. RTHK has been performing the role of a public broadcaster, and it should continue to perform that role properly as a public broadcaster, which is objective, fair and of course support the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” Lam said.

“That doesn’t mean that RTHK could not have programmes that also criticise the government, but it has to be done in an objective and fair manner without bias and prejudice.”

Lam refused to be drawn into another RTHK controversy – the sacking of journalist Nabela Qoser – saying only that as CE, she is not involved in the station’s decisions on personnel.

Qoser had been lauded by many for her no-nonsense questioning of officials during the 2019 protests, but pro-Beijing figures were furious and had demanded the station take action against her.

Separately, Lam also said the government is looking into introducing a new law to combat “fake news”, but there is no timetable for this.

“The fake news law needs a lot of research, especially how overseas governments are tackling this increasingly worrying trend of spreading inaccurate information misinformation, hatred, and lies on social media,” she said.

“We have no timetable whatsoever about this subject, but we will continue to be very serious about this issue because of the damage it is doing to many people.”