World

HK replaces BBC with China-run radio channel

HONG KONG: Former British colony Hong Kong's public broadcaster RTHK dropped a 24-hour BBC World Service channel from its airwaves yesterday, replacing it with state radio from China in what critics said is a sign of encroaching Chinese control.

A petition had been signed by nearly 1,000 people in a bid to keep the British broadcaster's programming, saying the switch would make Hong Kong "feel more parochial and inward-looking".

RTHK went ahead with scrapping the BBC channel on Sunday. Instead, China National Radio - which carries no sensitive or critical reporting on China - would be broadcast, mostly in Mandarin, rather than the city's main Cantonese dialect.

Ms Amen Ng, a spokesman for RTHK, told Reuters earlier that there were no political considerations in the decision and said the Chinese broadcaster would enhance cultural exchanges.

Some said the move could hurt RTHK's trusted place in the public eye with its self-professed mission for independence, not unlike the BBC after which it was modelled.

Others said the move was in line with the gradual "mainlandisation" of Hong Kong. - REUTERS

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