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Government pledges full resources support for RTHK

The Government today (December 3) announced a comprehensive package for the next few years to fully support the development of Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) as a public service broadcaster (PSB).

"To perform the PSB functions, RTHK needs support from the Government in respect of resource and manpower provision and planning for new services and facilities. I am glad to say that the Government has made all necessary preparation," the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Communications and Technology), Miss Elizabeth Tse, said.

On manpower, the Government supported the creation of a number of new civil service posts in 2011-12, including the permanent post of Controller (Broadcasting Service) ranked at D1 and a supernumerary Administrative Officer Staff Grade B post to be designated as Deputy Director of Broadcasting for three years. The additional posts will be responsible for future planning including the development of digital broadcasting services and the new Broadcasting House in Tseung Kwan O.

RTHK currently has about 80 civil service vacancies. RTHK will resume internal promotion, and plans to convene the promotion boards from the first quarter of next year. In parallel, RTHK will resume recruitment of civil servants at about the same time.

"RTHK's most valuable asset is its own team members. The management of RTHK will soon be in touch with colleagues to explain its plan for and details of the promotion and recruitment exercises. We aim to complete these exercises by next year to allay unnecessary anxiety among staff so that they can concentrate on the challenges ahead," Miss Tse said.

On developing digital audio broadcasting (DAB) services, RTHK plans to launch five DAB programme channels in mid-2012. Four will be used for improving the reception of AM broadcasting and enhancing the existing content, and one for relaying national programmes. RTHK will provide value-added data services, such as the screening of news highlights, weather information and traffic reports on DAB receivers.

RTHK will also develop digital terrestrial television (DTT) service in a progressive and step-by-step manner. Starting from 2011-12, the production of high-definition television programmes will be increased from about 50 hours to not less than 200 hours per year.

In the next few years, RTHK will also move forward at full steam to establish a DTT transmission network, including discussion with the two free-to-air TV broadcasters on the rental of suitable hilltop transmission sites, purchasing transmitters and equipment, and conducting technical trials.

The Government has earmarked sufficient funds for procuring additional equipment and facilities required to start the DAB and DTT services.

The Government has also allocated $45 million for a three-year trial under the proposed Community Broadcasting Involvement Fund. RTHK will consult its Board of Advisors on the arrangements for community participation in broadcasting.

"On the reprovisioning of Broadcasting House, the Government has decided on Tseung Kwan O Area 85 as the site for the development of the new Broadcasting House. Compared with the original site, the new one is larger and subject to far fewer development constraints, thus substantially reducing construction difficulties. The Government plans to complete the technical feasibility study around the first half of 2011, and will complete the town planning procedures and application for funding as soon as possible," Miss Tse said.

RTHK possesses an archive of over 80 years of audio records and more than 30 years of TV productions. The Government will set aside resources in the next five years for RTHK to establish a Media Asset Management system in order to preserve Hong Kong's public-broadcasting heritage and make it available for use by the public and the industry.

Details on the additional recurrent and non-recurrent expenditures will be set out in the coming estimates for RTHK.

Friday, December 3, 2010

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