TVB defends news program, watchdog swamped with complaints

February 25, 2016 14:36
TVB chief executive Lee Po-on (inset) says the program changes are not meant to please the central government, but legislator Claudia Mo says the broadcaster sounds like the mouthpiece of Beijing. Photos: Claudia Mo/Facebook, HKEJ

Television Broadcasts Ltd. (00511.HK) defended its decision to use Putonghua and simplified Chinese characters in a prime-time news program as more complaints swamped the Communications Authority over the TV station's move.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, the watchdog has received more than 13,000 complaints from the public about the TVB news program, Apple Daily reported.

TVB, Hong Kong’s dominant free-to-air television network, launched on Monday a 45-minute news and information program in Putonghua with simplified Chinese characters for graphics and subtitles.

Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching has blasted TVB’s decision, saying she is worried traditional Chinese characters will go the way of the Tibetan and Uyghur languages, which are now fading out.

In his reply, TVB chief executive Lee Po-on called Mo's comments "specious” and accused the legislator of discrimination for overlooking the needs of people who only read simplified Chinese characters.

Lee said the broadcaster did not reduce the airtime of newscasts that use Cantonese and traditional Chinese characters for subtitles, stressing that it always serves Hong Kong people first.

He also said the change complies with the domestic free TV program service license requirements.

Lee said Mo, having worked in a TV station, should know that it takes time to prepare for and change the subtitles, and it is not a change meant to please Beijing.

Mo, after receiving Lee's reply, noted that TVB is sounding like a mouthpiece of Beijing.

She said radio waves are valuable public assets, and local TV viewers should always be given priority.

“We will not ask for Chinese subtitles if we were in UK,” Mo said.

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