TVB’s response to media enquiries on the rescheduling of RTHK programme

(5 July 2017) Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) issues the following response to media enquiries on the rescheduling of RTHK programme “Headliner”:

The visit of Xi Jinping to Hong Kong, for the first time in his capacity as the President of the People’s Republic of China, was an important news. In particular, his speeches have drawn great attention. Apart from reporting the news live on iNews channel, we also arranged live or pre-recorded broadcast of the President’s speeches on Jade channel at the earliest possible time to cater for the needs of hundreds of thousands of analogue TV viewers who could not watch the digital iNews channel.

There was a “pool footage” of President Xi meeting with different sectors in the afternoon of 30 June. TVB decided to broadcast the whole footage on Jade as soon as possible after it was collated. We had immediately informed RTHK of the pre-emption of “Headliner” and offered to reschedule the programme to Jade at the same time slot the next day or on J5 channel at 12:30am that night. RTHK agreed to choose the latter after discussion. As 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 “Headliner”. We had no choice but to insert a standby filler programme (“Hong Kong So Blessed”) to fill up the remaining time slot. “Headliner” was broadcast on 8:30pm on RTHK TV 31 that night as scheduled.

RTHK Amen Ng Man-yee said TVB stated that it pre-empted “Headliner” to make way for a breaking news, but it turned out to be a feng shui programme instead. It would be an ignorance of the facts if Ng did not consider the President’s speech as news, or it was of less importance than “Headliner”. It was an inappropriate statement by a professional news practitioner or broadcaster.

The requirement to broadcast RTHK programmes 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 This arrangement is now out-of-date as RTHK has started digital terrestrial television broadcasting service since January 2014, providing three programme channels. RTHK said “the public will have more choices in addition to the services delivered by the existing commercial broadcasters”. Last year, RTHK 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. 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 programmes, thus depriving viewers of programme choices. This also adversely affects the commercial TV stations in its programming and rescheduling flexibility. The outdated arrangement should cease the soonest.

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19 November 2017
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