You cut reporters, I cut you

December 02, 2020 10:53
Photo: Reuters

i-Cable could be facing the biggest customer loss in history after many of its senior editorial staff tendered their resignations following the TV firm’s cutting 40 news staff.

Right after the announcement to lay off all its staff in the company’s signature investigative program News Lancet, it was said that the phone rang non-stop at its customer service hotline asking to immediately terminate the service.

Reason? i-Cable News has one of the best news teams in Hong Kong, if not the best, and lots of people subscribe to Cable because of its news.

All told, i-Cable news is credited for its unbiased reporting, especially its China coverage. Cable was the only Hong Kong media to station in Wuhan covering the epidemic earlier this year.

The call to cut Cable subscription went viral yesterday with netizens bringing back the old joke that even Adolf Hitler had difficulty to cancel subscription back in the days when founder Wharf Holdings was in control.

Wharf’s Peter Woo sold the TV business he founded in 1993 to Forever Top (Asia), led by Far East Consortium David Chiu.

Yesterday 40 news staff were told to leave the office right after the morning meeting when they received their letter of redundancy. Specifically, the whole team of News Lancet was laid off.

After a heated discussion with the station’s newly installed management team, numerous news editors and reporters tendered their resignations.

In a joint statement, they expressed their deepest regret in the senior management’s ruining i-Cable News, and decided to resign to express their discontent.

Their resignation was reminiscent of the pan-democrats who quitted their Legislative Council seats en masse after Beijing decided to disqualify four legislators last month.

It is not clear how i-Cable News could survive its daily operation after the mass resignation. To draw some reference from the Legco Council, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she was pleased to be able to deliver her policy address in a non-disturbed manner. Some legislators, most notably Jeffrey Lam, have pledged their support for Lam.

Being a journalist is never an easy job, but there seems to be no worse time for the local journalists to perform their duties in the past 18 months that saw Hong Kong fall into turmoil from the social movement to the implementation of national security law.

Indeed they risk their lives for reporting only to find that they are constantly at the brink of breaking the law, most recently exemplified by the RTHK reporter Bao Choy, who was arrested last month for making a false statement under the Road Traffic Ordinance.

It makes one wonder how media in Hong Kong could survive if one continues to purge its best staff until the last audience pull the plug.

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EJ Insight writer