Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) on Wednesday criticized an executive of Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) for complaining about the rescheduling of the latter’s show on its TV channel, noting that it had to make way for the broadcast of a “pool footage” of President Xi Jinping’s meeting with community leaders in the city last Friday.
In response to media enquiries about the controversy, TVB said Xi’s three-day visit to Hong Kong last week, the first in his presidency, was an important news.
“It would be an ignorance of the facts if [Amen Ng Man-yee, head of RTHK’s corporate communications unit, who made the complaint] did not consider the President’s speech as news, or it was of less importance than [the RTHK show that had been rescheduled],” TVB said in a statement.
Ng has complained to the Communications Authority about TVB’s abrupt move to switch its political satire show Headliner from its original schedule at 6 p.m. on Friday on TVB Jade, to TVB J5 at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday.
Ng said the network aired instead a 15-minute video clip of Xi’s meeting with community leaders and then reran a 2012 show on feng shui, Hong Kong So Blessed.
But TVB branded Ng’s complaint as “an inappropriate statement by a professional news practitioner or broadcaster”.
The network said after deciding to broadcast the entire footage of the president’s meeting with community leaders, it immediately informed RTHK of the new arrangement.
TVB “offered to reschedule the program to Jade at the same time slot the next day or on J5 channel at 12:30am that night”, and RTHK agreed to choose the latter after discussion.
But since the “pool footage” lasted less than 15 minutes and was followed by News At 6:30, the available time left was not enough for the broadcast of the RTHK program, the political satire show Headliner, TVB said.
“We had no choice but to insert a standby filler program (Hong Kong So Blessed) to fill up the remaining time slot.”
TVB also noted that Headliner was broadcast at 8:30 p.m. on RTHK TV 31 that night as scheduled.
The network said the requirement for TVB to broadcast RTHK programs is a historical one as RTHK then did not have its own TV channels.
“This arrangement is now out-of-date as RTHK has started digital terrestrial television broadcasting service since January 2014, providing three program channels,” TVB said, adding that RTHK last year launched two additional new analogue TV channels.
“Currently, the coverage and penetration rate of RTHK’s free TV service is no different from that of TVB,” it said.
As such, TVB said, “RTHK should not and has no reasons to continue to use, free of charge, the precious high-rating time slot of commercial TV stations merely to repeat RTHK programs, thus depriving viewers of program choices”.
“This also adversely affects the commercial TV stations in its programming and rescheduling flexibility,” the network said. “The outdated arrangement should cease the soonest.”
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RTHK ‘awfully displeased’ at TVB’s abrupt show switch