Date
17 October 2017
The government is looking for the right medium to communicate with the public, and it has chosen to look back to the good, old colonial days for inspiration. Photos: YouTube, HKEJ
The government is looking for the right medium to communicate with the public, and it has chosen to look back to the good, old colonial days for inspiration. Photos: YouTube, HKEJ

Would a colonial-era TV show help govt fill social media gap?

New government, new relationship with new media.

Try to understand why Carrie Lam didn’t show much enthusiasm for social media during her election campaign.

She couldn’t understand, for example, why, while she was discussing her election platform on Facebook live, hundreds of angry emojis kept floating around the field.

Anyway, someone in her team came up with a brilliant idea: Why not use old media to fend off assaults from the new media?

And so the incoming administration is thinking of resurrecting an old television program from the colonial days to address the raging issues, which, when tackled in the new media, somehow put the government in a bad light.

The idea to relaunch Access, a five-minute TV program that has been suspended since 1996, came from Chief Executive Office head Eric Chan, who wants to create a new platform to directly communicate with the public, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

The government-funded Radio Television Hong Kong launched the program in June 1979 as a weekday prime-time show that served as the mouthpiece of the colonial government.

During the program, the host reads a letter from a viewer asking about a particular social issue or policy and invites a relevant government official or company executive to answer it.

As far as I could recall from my TV viewing experience as a child, most of the letters were downright boring, and that meant for me that the missives were authentic and really came from concerned citizens because gag writers, as far as I was aware then, were only capable of coming up with hilarious and highly entertaining ones.

The program went well until 1987 when it was moved to a weekend slot and a similar OpEd program took over the spot.

In 1996, when the government communication apparatus has become more sophisticated, Access was quietly shelved.

We are not sure how this old wine in a new bottle would fare in the era of social media, when fake news and faulty views can spread as fast as a virus.

But we would not go so far as calling this media foray a dead duck because we see no point in trying to discourage the creativity of the new administration, which we hope will bring something different from what Leung Chun-ying’s regime had given us, something less divisive and more inspiring.

It’s not that we don’t hear from our highly esteemed leaders. In fact, in this era of government blogs, we hear a lot from them.

The problem is that we only get their side, and their explanations – with the exception of those from former financial secretary John Tsang – are almost always boring.

This is the era of interactive communication platforms. The audience get to give a piece of their mind, too.

So top government officials need to do more than come up with Sunday blogs which, for all we know, might have been ghost-written by artificial intelligence.

Well, let’s see how the revamped The Access works. It might not, but at least it is small step in the right direction.

– Contact us at [email protected]

BK/AC/CG

EJ Insight writer

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