June 1928 (radio)
1954 (gained independence from Government Information Services)
Broadcasting House, the former headquarters of the RTHK
Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK; Chinese: 香港電台) is the public broadcasting service of Hong Kong. It currently operates seven radio channels and three television channels, and produces educational, entertainment, and public affairs programmes that are also broadcast on commercial television channels.
Unlike some well-established public broadcasters such as the BBC and NHK, which are primarily funded via a licence fee system, RTHK is directly funded by an annual government allocation, and operates as a department of the government (similar to the CBC) under the Communications Authority.
The Hong Kong Government launched its first radio broadcasting station, known as "GOW", in June 1928. Several name changes occurred over the next few years, and it eventually became known as "Radio Hong Kong" (RHK) (Chinese: 香港廣播電台) in 1948.
In 1949, broadcasting operations were taken over by the Government Information Services (GIS), but by 1954, RHK had managed to establish itself as an independent department. Up until 1966, the radio station was only on-air for three periods during the day; at morning, lunchtime, and evening. This was partly due to many of the presenters being part-time freelancers who had to fit their radio appearances in with their normal daily working schedule.
In 1969, the station's medium wave AM transmitting station was moved from a waterfront site in Hung Hom to the summit of Golden Hill in the New Territories. Although the new transmitters were much more powerful, the mountain-top site proved unsuitable for medium wave transmissions and reception in some areas has remained problematic ever since. In March 1969, RHK moved its headquarters to new purpose-built studios located at Broadcasting House (Chinese: 廣播大廈) in Kowloon Tong.
A Public Affairs Television Unit was established in 1970 to produce TV programmes for required broadcast by independent channels. At that time, RTHK did not have its own television broadcast transmitters.
In 1973, RTHK set up its own radio newsroom. Prior to this, all news had been prepared by Government Information Services staff. Until 1969, headlines were sent to the studios every half-hour by teleprinter from the GIS headquarters in Central District, while the three daily full bulletins were hand-delivered by a messenger. This arrangement became impractical following the move to the new studios in 1969, so initially a GIS newsroom was set up in Broadcasting House. This arrangement also proved unsatisfactory and RTHK's own journalists, who until then had been confined to producing magazine programmes, took over the entire news operation.
In 1976, the station's name was changed to "Radio Television Hong Kong" (RTHK) to reflect its new involvement in television programme production. In the same year, it began to produce educational television programmes for schools after absorbing the previously independent Educational Television Unit.
In 1986, RTHK headquarters moved across the road to the former Commercial Television studios, which were renamed Television House. The station's first News and Financial News channel, Radio 7, was established in November 1989.
In December 1994, RTHK launched its website and made its television productions, as well as content from its seven radio channels, available online. The website provided live broadcasts as well as a twelve-month archive (with the exception of HKCEE and HKALE broadcasts in RTHK2 due to copyright issues with the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority). The website, presented in English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese, initially offered free news via email three times per day, as well as online content.
In 2013, RTHK trialled and launched a new television channel. To support this new television operation, the government administration increased the station's funding by between HK$300 million and HK$400 million a year.
In March 2017, as the Hong Kong government decided to terminate DAB services in Hong Kong, RTHK said that it would integrate the existing DAB programmes into existing AM and FM radio channels. As the government claimed that RTHK should stop DAB service within six months, that means DAB service will be terminated no later than September 30, 2017.
With the termination of DAB+ in Hong Kong, RTHK has announced in August 2017 that the broadcaster's relay of BBC World Service on Radio 6 would reduce to 8 hours a day and move to an overnight slot on Radio 4; Radio 6 would instead relay China National Radio's programme 14 which targets Hong Kong. CNR's programme 14 was previously heard on RTHK DAB 2 until DAB services in Hong Kong were shut down.
RTHK operates twelve radio channels:
|Channel name||Modulation||Frequency||Primary language(s)||Features|
|RTHK Radio 1||FM||(MHz) 92.6 (Mt. Gough), 94.4 (Kowloon Peak), 93.2 (Cloudy Hill), 93.4 (Castle Peak), 93.6 (Lamma Island), 92.9 (Golden Hill), 93.5 (Beacon Hill)||Cantonese||News and current affairs, information, phone-in programmes, and general programmes|
|RTHK Radio 2||FM||(MHz) 94.8 (Mt. Gough), 96.9 (Kowloon Peak), 95.3 (Cloudy Hill), 96.4 (Castle Peak), 96.0 (Lamma Island), 95.6 (Golden Hill), 96.3 (Beacon Hill)||Cantonese (primary) / Indonesian (additional programme)||Programmes aimed at youth, entertainment and popular music (Cantopop)|
|RTHK Radio 3||AM
|(kHz) 567 (Golden Hill), 1584 (Chung Hum Kok)
(MHz) 97.9 (Mt. Nicholson), 106.8 (Chung Hum Kok), 107.8 (Tseung Kwan O), 107.8 (Tin Shui Wai)
|English (primary) / Nepali and Urdu (additional programmes)||News, popular music, information, romance, comedy, reality, sports and education programmes. Similar in genre to BBC Radio 4|
|RTHK Radio 4||FM||(MHz) 97.6 (Mt. Gough), 98.9 (Kowloon Peak), 97.8 (Cloudy Hill), 98.7 (Castle Peak), 98.2 (Lamma Island), 98.4 (Golden Hill), 98.1 (Beacon Hill)||English (primary) / Cantonese (secondary)||Classical music and fine arts|
|RTHK Radio 5||AM
|(kHz) 783 (Golden Hill)
(MHz) 92.3 (Tin Shui Wai), 99.4 (Tseung Kwan O), 106.8 (Castle Peak)
|Cantonese (primary) / Mandarin (secondary)||Programmes aimed at the elderly, cultural and education|
|RTHK Radio 6||AM||(kHz) 675 (Peng Chau)||Cantonese and Mandarin||24-hour relay of 24-hour relay of China National Radio for Hong Kong (formerly a relay of BBC World Service)|
|(kHz) 621 (Golden Hill)
(MHz) 100.9 (Jardine's Lookout), 103.3 Tseung Kwan O, 103.3 (Tin Shui Wai)
|Mandarin (primary) / Cantonese (secondary)|
RTHK operates three television channels:
|Channel (Digital)||Channel name||Notes||Date founded|
|31||RTHK TV 31 (31A for Analog viewers)||A general channel offering diversified programmes on current affairs, education, information, culture and arts, and dramas.
Broadcast 6:30AM–1:30AM (Monday to Sunday).
|13 January 2014 (trial transmission)
2 April 2016 (analog launch)
|32||RTHK TV 32||A live feed of Legislative Council meetings every Wednesday and other important press conferences.||13 January 2014 (trial transmission)|
|33||RTHK TV 33 (33A for Analog viewers)||At launch, it was a simulcast channel of what is now CGTN Documentary. On 29 May 2017, it began relaying CCTV-1 instead after a short filler. The channel generally relays the Mandarin generalist channel with minor variation.||13 January 2014 (trial transmission)
2 April 2016 (analog launch)
RTHK primarily produces public affairs programmes such as Hong Kong Connection (鏗鏘集), A Week in Politics (議事論事), Media Watch (傳媒春秋), Pentaprism (五稜鏡), Access (奉告) and Police Report (警訊). These are broadcast by Hong Kong's three commercial television channels, TVB, ATV and Cable TV, in addition to RTHK's own television network. It has also produced TV dramas, including the classic Below the Lion Rock (獅子山下).
RTHK and the Hong Kong Education Bureau jointly produce Educational Television (ETV, 教育電視), a series of educational programmes for primary and secondary students – airing during non-peak hours on RTHK stations. ETV was first broadcast in 1971 for Primary 3 students and was extended to Primary 6 students in 1974. In 1978, it was extended to cover junior secondary (Form 1-Form 3) students. RTHK formerly broadcast these programmes on their stations during non-peak daytime hours, but now distributes them online instead.
While school programmes covering the topics of English, Chinese, Mathematics and Mandarin Chinese are provided to both primary and secondary students, Science and Humanities programmes are provided for secondary school students only and General Studies programmes are designed for primary students only.
There has been confusion between ETV and the ETV division of RTHK. Besides school ETV programmes, the ETV division of RTHK produces public educational television programmes for general viewers, such as Road Back (鐵窗邊緣), Anti-Drug Special (毒海浮生), Sex Education (性本善), and Doctor and You (醫生與你).
As RTHK is a government-funded division, there was controversy in 2000 when then-chief-executive Tung Chee-Hwa admitted in a public statement that he hoped RTHK would help in sending out the government's messages. Even though this dealt a blow to RTHK's credibility, it has managed to retain its image as an independent news organisation reporting purely in the public's interest.
On the other hand, there has been local argument whether RTHK should be incorporated. Proponents of the idea argued for RTHK to become an independent corporation, separate from the government, so that it could achieve more flexibility and cost-efficiency in its operation.
The ultimate concern is whether RTHK has enough editorial independence for a public broadcaster. One of the examples was the suspected intervention in RTHK's press freedom in July 1999. After inviting Cheng An-kuo (鄭安國), the highest representative of the "Taiwanese authority" in Hong Kong, to discuss the issue of the separation of China and Taiwan and Lee Teng-hui's "Two States Theory", RTHK was condemned by Chinese nationalists. In October that year, the Head of Radio Broadcasting, Cheung Man Yee (張敏儀), was transferred to Japan as the Principal Hong Kong Economic and Trade Representative in Tokyo for no obvious reason.
However, there are cases where RTHK's editorial independence has been fully exemplified. There was one episode in Letter to Hong Kong (香港家書) (a programme in which important government officials read letters on Hong Kong matters on air to the public) was rescheduled for another more timely and newsworthy one. The switch had been made possible by a prompt editorial decision. Another case was a recent survey of the Hong Kong media conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong School of Journalism and Communication, which placed RTHK in first place amongst electronic media in terms of credibility. RTHK achieved second place overall when all the local newspapers and magazines were included.
In 2002, a former Chief Programme Officer was convicted of misconduct in public office. The charges related to approving salary increases for one RTHK employee without complying with procedures.
On 8 June 2006, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong arrested four people on corruption-related charges, including a deputy head of RTHK 2 and a disc jockey, who were arrested for committing scams totalling about HK$70,000 from 1995 to 2001. They were alleged to have conspired and sold scripts for various programmes that they did not write. Another former disc jockey and her mother were alleged to have aided the conspiracy by using their bank accounts by receiving payments from the radio station. All four were arrested and were released on bail.
RTHK was also criticised by the Audit Commission of the Hong Kong Government for its problems on complying with regulations on staff management. The report especially highlighted the misuse of public funds by the RTHK staff on entertainment expenses, overtime claims and the outsourcing of services.
In July 2007, the head of RTHK and Director of Broadcasting was accidentally spotted by a group of journalists in Causeway Bay along with an unidentified female. The journalists were actually waiting for singer Kenny Bee, who was in a nearby restaurant. On seeing the gathered journalists, Chu ducked behind his companion. Photos became the main page headlines in some of the major Hong Kong newspapers the following day. Chu, who was one year due to his official retirement from the government, subsequently decided to seek early retirement in the aftermath.