Hong Kong In-Media: Submission to Council on public broadcasting

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Hong Kong In-Media: Submission to Legislative Council Subcommittee Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting

Introduction:

Hong Kong In-Media strongly believes that Public Broadcasting should be independent to ensure the freedom of speech and expression in Hong Kong. The recommendations put forward by Government in the “Future operation of the Radio Television of Hong Kong (RTHK) and new RTHK Charter" has ignored the fundamental suggestion put forward by the “Committee on Review of Public Service Broadcasting" that a “truly independent public broadcaster should be developed" in Hong Kong. We therefore express our our disappointment and regret towards such misleading consultation.

Below is the organization’s response to the Government’s recommendation:

1. We oppose the Government’s recommendation to maintain RTHK as a government department to perform the role of public broadcaster. According to the report drafted by the “Committee on Review of Public Service Broadcasting", it is essential for Hong Kong to set up a truly independent public broadcaster and RTHK is not necessarily the agent to perform this function. If the Government takes the committee recommendation seriously, it should consult the public on the idea and implementation of “a truly public broadcaster" in Hong Kong. However, the consultation paper published in last September by the Government once again shifts the focus from the development of public service broadcaster to the status of RTHK. We believe that such shift in focus intends to mislead the public in the discussion.

The Chairman of the “Committee on Review of Public Service Broadcasting", Mr. Raymond Roy Wong, openly criticized the Government on newspapers (Ming Pao 13-4-2010) that “even the most fundamental view has not been accepted … … it’s a waste of time. Now the administration has made the decision, and what else can we say?" We should not copy North Korea model and set up an “official broadcaster" pretending to be “public broadcaster". We agree with Mr. Wong’s criticism and we have to prevent our public broadcaster to be degraded into CCTV, a government mouthpiece. Such move would strangle the space for the development of a genuinely public broadcaster in Hong Kong.

2. We believe that a truly independent public broadcaster should be separated from the government. Production staff should not be civil servants. We express our great disappointment and frustration on the government’s proposal to reorganize RTHK into an official government media.

3. The recommendation of a 12-member RTHK Board of Advisors reflects the government mentality in “monitoring" RTHK’s production. Even though government officials explained that the Board have no real power, as an advisory body built into the institution, it is bound to impose pressure on the broadcaster’s daily operation. Furthermore, we believe that the so-called “broad based cross-sectoral" advisory body would eventually turn into another abnormal tissue just like “functional constituencies" which represents the opinions and interests of pro-establishment privileged class in the Legislative Council as all the members would be appointed by the Chief Executive. We believe that the public broadcaster should be monitored by people rather than by any government appointed agency.

4. The existing broadcasting policy that facilitates media monopoly, together with the undemocratic political system, have distorted local media’s ecology. Mainstream media are “harmonized", TVB was ridiculed as CCTVB, and many other media are either captured by “red" capital (mainland Chinese capital) or self-imposed censorship. This is the situation why RTHK has been playing an increasingly significant role in Hong Kong. In the recent “City Forum" controversy, pro-establishment Legislative Council members gave pressure to RTHK collectively by refusing to attend the forum. RTHK yielded and agreed to set up iron barriers between the speakers and the forum audience. We can see that the editorial independence of RTHK is gradually eroded by the ruling class. To protect the free speech in Hong Kong, it is essential to ensure the independence and autonomy of the new public broadcaster.

5. We reiterate our comments in last year that the Government should conduct research on a public broadcasting model that can accommodate more citizen participation. The Government’s narrow definition of public broadcasting as a “service" instead of “a means for empowerment of citizen" has limited the mission of the public broadcaster. The consultation paper repeatedly states that the objective of public broadcasting is “to promote development of civil society", but it has not elaborated concretely its role in promoting and developing the civil society. At present, civic organizations neither have the skill nor the opportunities to participate in the production of public broadcasting. We recommend the government to set up community based media centers, together with a community broadcasting fund for media education, production training, and facilitating the cooperation between professional producers and civic organizations in program production. Moreover, the Government should release multi-media resources for re-creation and re-production by promoting Creative Commons License among public broadcasters. Last but not least, the government should open up air-wave as soon as possible, return the right of broadcasting back to Hong Kong people.

Hong Kong In-Media, May 18, 2010

中文版請見此

公共廣播必須獨立 反對政府混淆視線——獨立媒體(香港)就《香港電台的未來運作及新香港電台約章》意見書

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前言:立法會資訊科技及廣播事務委員會將於5月31日召開特別會議,就香港電台的未來運作及新香港電台約章,與民間團體會面,獨立媒體 (香港)將會出席表達意見,下為致立法會的意見書。

獨立媒體 (香港) 反對政府在《香港電台的未來運作及新香港電台約章》公眾諮詢文件提出的多項建議:

1. 我們反對政府維持香港電台以政府部門身份履行公共廣播工作。早前公共廣播檢討委員會報告建議,香港需要發展一個真正獨立的公共廣播機構,而它不一定是香港電台。但在去年九月發表的諮詢文件,卻又將焦點放回港台,如今更提出「新香港電台」的建議,我們認為極之荒謬。公共廣播檢討委員會主席黃應士先生,在4月13日的《明報》訪問中表示:「政府連最基本的意見都沒有採納……是浪費時間,行政部門都決定了,還說什麼?」我們不要像北韓一樣以「官台」身份自稱的「公共廣播」,我們不要香港的公共廣播淪為CCTV,淪為政府喉舌,變相扼殺香港發展真正公共廣播的空間。

2. 我們認為,一個真正的獨立公營廣播機構應脫離政府,所有製作人員亦不應由公務員組成。政府如今一心要改組一個附屬於官方的媒體,我們表示極度失望。

3. 政府提議成立的一個十二人組成,所謂的「跨界別顧問委員會」,正正是反映這種「監控」公共廣播機構的心態。政府雖然表示,這個委員會並無實權,惟在架構上,委員會作為顧問,必然對香港電台的運作造成一定的壓力。委員會全由特首委任,所謂的「跨界別」,亦只會變成另一種「功能組別」式的異型組織,只能反映少部份的意見及利益。我們認為,公共廣播機構的表現,自有公眾監察,不需要一個官委機構代行市民的權力。

4. 香港的封閉廣播政策,加上不民主的政制,已經令傳媒的生態扭曲。主流媒體主動河蟹,TVB 被譏為 CCTVB,其餘機構不是被紅色資本入主,就是自我審查日增。港台的角色愈發重要,在近日《城市論壇》爭議中,建制派議員聯手向港台施壓,拒絕出席論壇,結果港台屈服,加設鐵馬、花盤阻隔觀眾。我們見到的,是港台的編輯自主,獨立的空間,已經漸漸被在位者蠶食。我們希望,新的公共廣播機構能真正堅持獨立自主。

5. 我們再次重申我們在去年提出的意見,要求政府立即研究能容納更多公民參與的公共廣播發展。政府一直視公營廣播是「服務」而不是「公民充權」的手段,是過於狹窄的想法。諮詢文件多次提到公共廣播 「促進公民社會發展」,但如何促進、怎樣發展卻隻事不提,極之空洞。事實上,現時公民團體從未有足夠技術支援,或未有機會參與公共廣播製作,我們認為政府應撥款創立社區廣播基金,推行社區廣播教育訓練,促進廣播專業人士與公民團體合作,製作節目於公眾頻道播放。其次,我們認為政府應立即將公營廣播機構的多媒體資源加入創意共享原則,供市民引用及再創作,並設立公共廣播公眾資源中心。政府亦應早日開放大氣電波及公眾頻譜,還公眾及民間社會辦媒體的權利。

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