Date
17 December 2017
RTHK said the decision to replace BBC broadcasts with programming from a state radio channel was meant to “enhance cultural exchanges between the mainland and Hong Kong”. Photo: RTHK
RTHK said the decision to replace BBC broadcasts with programming from a state radio channel was meant to “enhance cultural exchanges between the mainland and Hong Kong”. Photo: RTHK

RTHK making a huge mistake in silencing BBC

Radio Television Hong Kong is making a huge mistake in silencing British Broadcasting Corp. in the city. In early September the local public broadcaster will stop broadcasting BBC programs.

In order to reinforce its status as China’s financial center, Hong Kong needs to be more outward-looking. Hong Kong citizens need to broaden their political and business horizons in order to compete with their counterparts in Singapore, London and New York.

Listening to BBC current affairs programs definitely will sharpen their competitiveness. It is short-sighted of RTHK to cut BBC broadcasts in Hong Kong.

I listen to BBC’s radio broadcasts at least three hours a day. I keep radios in my bedroom, sitting room and the bathroom. The broadcaster has news summaries every quarter of the hour. Listening to BBC helps me keep abreast of world news. I am sure that I am not alone in using BBC to enhance my competitiveness.

Investors listen to BBC to know the latest developments in world business. Politicians and ordinary people alike get the latest news about coups in Africa or South America, not to mention US President Donald Trump’s latest plans on North Korea (solving disputes through diplomatic channels) and Afghanistan.

I teach at local universities and I always advise my students to listen to BBC programs whenever they can. They can turn the radio on while playing with their phones or glued to their computer screens.

Listening constantly to BBC broadcasts will also help improve their English standards. They can learn words such as “radicalization” and “white supremacy” through news programs. Passive listening is recommended as it will not interfere with people’s daily lives.

No one doubts that English is very important in Hong Kong if the city wants to maintain its role as China’s financial center. While news reports show that young people’s English standards in Hong Kong have declined in recent years, we should try all efforts to arrest the deterioration. Killing BBC is unquestionably a huge mistake.

Starting Sept. 4, 2017, the BBC broadcasts will be replaced with programming from state broadcaster China National Radio, known as Central People’s Radio in the mainland, and it will broadcast almost entirely in Mandarin.

RTHK said the move was meant to “enhance cultural exchanges between the mainland and Hong Kong”.

Eight hours of BBC programs will still be played overnight from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. local time, but most people would have gone to bed by then.

I must admit that many Hong Kong citizens, myself included, would feel a bit nostalgic after BBC goes off the air. The broadcaster has been in Hong Kong for 40 years helping many people enhance their English standards and broaden their world view.

A high level of English proficiency is important to sustain Hong Kong’s competitiveness, lest we lose out to Singapore, London and New York.

Let us pray and hope that RTHK will still change its mind.

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RT/CG

Adjunct professor at Hong Kong Shue Yan University

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