Television Broadcasts Ltd. (TVB) will stop airing City Forum, a public forum held at Victoria Park every Sunday which TV stations have broadcast live since 1980, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Radio-Television Hong Kong (RTHK), the show’s producer, will take over in broadcasting the program live on its 31A analog channel and 31 digital channel.
It is understood that TVB has informed RTHK of its decision.
City Forum is Hong Kong’s first public forum on political and social issues that is televised live.
In place of City Forum, TVB will air its own political commentary program called Sunday Spotlight.
Amen Ng Man-yee, head of RTHK’s corporate communications unit, said there is no law requiring TVB to air RTHK programs on Sunday, therefore the decision is compliant with existing regulations.
Apart from City Forum, several other RTHK programs, such as Hong Kong Connection, Headliner and LegCo Review, will all be broadcast at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than before.
Sources from RTHK said TVB’s decision could be related to the fact that viewer ratings for TVB Jade channel’s 6 p.m. slot have always been at a single-digit level.
The change in programming would definitely have an impact on the channel’s viewership, the sources said.
They also noted that many viewers watch the programs on the RTHK website, and they will also be replayed on channels 31A and 31.
According to Apple Daily, Headliner has been labeled as a peculiar program by the pro-establishment camp, and there are rumors that RTHK management had plans to restructure or even stop airing it.
Joseph Tse Chi-fung, the host of City Forum from 2004 to 2015, said TVB’s decision poses a stiff challenge for RTHK.
If the viewer ratings deteriorate, Tse worried that the government could conveniently trim the station’s resources, which could affect its growth.
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