Hong Kong’s communications watchdog has warned government broadcaster RTHK for alleged biased reporting in a controversial television program, Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday.
The Communications Authority said it received complaints from the public regarding a Hong Kong Connection segment about a failed attempt by Hong Kong Television Network Ltd. (HKTVN) to win a terrestrial TV license.
The program, which aired on the Jade channel of Television Broadcasts Ltd. (TVB) in October last year, was criticized for being unfair and biased after it supposedly failed to present all sides of the story.
Critics accused the show of promoting HKTVN’s interests and failing to give other parties a chance to respond.
Meanwhile, academics said the watchdog has a conflict of interest in dealing with the complaints against RTHK because it was part of the government panel that reviewed the HKTVN license application.
Doris Wong, a senior executive producer for RTHK’s public and current affairs section, said the program focused on queries from HKTVN and the public regarding the government’s decision to reject HKTVN’s application.
RTHK said it invited government officials to give their views but they turned down the offer.
As a result, it was forced to use a news clip of Commerce and Economic Development Secretary Gregory So in which he refused to comment on the decision on the grounds of confidentiality, RTHK said.
Wong said comments from HKTVN chairman Ricky Wong on the program were his personal views and there was no need to solicit those of other concerned parties because the discussions were about a specific subject, not about the wider television market.
Professor Clement So, director of the school of journalism and communication of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said such programs should strive for neutrality and accuracy.
He said RTHK did its part by inviting the government to respond. It had no obligation to tell the audience that the government refused to comment, he said.
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