In 1928, the Hong Kong Government took over radio broadcasting and launched the first broadcasts in June under the call-sign of GOW. A year later, the call sign was changed from GOW to ZBW. Mr. N. L. Smith, the then-Postmaster General, was appointed the first ever Head of Radio Broadcasting in Hong Kong. However, the first news bulletins were not broadcast until 1934. During the same year, a Chinese language channel was established under the call sign ZEK. Finally in 1948, the call-signs ZBW and ZEK were abandoned and replaced by the single name "Radio Hong Kong" (RHK) (香港廣播電台).
Broadcasting operations were taken over by the Government Information Services (GIS) in 1949. The same year, the station moved from Gloucester Building in Central District to the headquarters of Cable & Wireless, Electra House (later renamed Mercury House, also in Central and on the site of the present Ritz Carlton Hotel), where it took over the sixth and seventh floors as studios, offices and concert hall space. (As in most British colonies, Cable & Wireless provided the station's engineering, technical operations services, and transmissions, an arrangement that persisted until the 1990s.) In 1954, RHK was established as a department in its own right, becoming independent of GIS.
Until 1966, the station was on-air only for three periods each day, morning, lunchtime, and evening partly because many of the broadcasters were part-time freelancers who had to fit their radio appearances into 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 near Shatin. 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 operations moved to new purpose-built studios, Broadcasting House (廣播大廈) at Broadcast Drive in Kowloon Tong. This building had originally been designed for a hillside site in Pokfulam on Hong Kong Island, but the new location was chosen as more secure for all the radio and television stations following the Cultural Revolution-inspired riots of 1967. There is a cafe at Broadcasting House open to the public.
A Public Affairs Television Unit was established in 1970 to produce TV programmes that the independent commercial stations were – and still are – required to broadcast under the terms of their licences. RTHK has no television broadcast transmitters of its own.
RTHK was finally permitted to set up its own radio newsroom in 1973. Until then, all news was prepared by GIS 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 delivered by hand by a messenger who carried them across Central District. 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 RHK'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, RTHK started to produce educational television programmes for schools after absorbing the previously independent Educational Television Unit. In 1986, RTHK TV 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 1994 the radio and television programmes were put online on the RTHK website.
|RTHK Radio 1|| AM |
|188,488 kHz (MHz) 92.6, 92.9, 93.2, 93.4, 93.5, 93.6, 94.4||Cantonese||news, information, phone-in programmes, and general programming|
|RTHK Radio 2||FM||(MHz) 94.8, 95.3, 95.6, 96.0, 96.3, 96.4, 96.9||Cantonese||programmes aimed at youth, entertainment and popular music (Cantopop). The HKEAA's HKALE Chinese Language & Culture and Use of English, and HKCEE English Language listening examinations are broadcast through this channel during the examination period of April and May|
|RTHK Radio 3|| AM |
| 567, 1584 kHz |
(MHz) 97.9, 106.8, 107.8
|English||news, popular music, information, , romance and action, drama, comedy, reality, sport and education programming. Similar in genre to BBC Radio 4|
|RTHK Radio 4||FM||(MHz) 97.6, 97.8, 98.1, 98.2, 98.4, 98.7, 98.9||English (mainly) / Cantonese (some)||classical music and fine arts|
|RTHK Radio 5|| AM |
| 783 kHz |
(MHz) 92.3, 99.4, 106.8
|Cantonese (mainly) / Mandarin(Some)||programming aimed at the elderly, also culture and education|
|RTHK Radio 6|| AM |
|RTHK Putonghua|| AM |
| 621 kHz |
(MHz) 100.9, 103.3
|Putonghua (mainly, some Cantonese)||general programming, news and finance|
RTHK also produces TV dramas, including the classic Below the Lion Rock (獅子山下).However, RTHK does not operate its own television channel.
RTHK is responsible for producing programs for Educational Television (ETV) for primary and secondary students. ETV was first broadcasted in 1971 for Primary 3 students and was extended to Primary 6 students in 1974. In 1978, it had been extended to cover junior secondary (Form 1-Form 3) students.
While school programs covering the topics of English, Chinese, Mathematics and Putonghua are provided to both primary and secondary students, Science and Humanities programs are only provided for secondary school students and General Studies programs are only designed for primary students.
Since the need for instructional TV program declines with the development of the internet and other educational media, broadcasting of school ETV programs will be terminated in 2008.
There has been confusion between ETV and the ETV division of RTHK. Besides school ETV programs, the ETV division of RTHK produces many public education TV programs for general viewers, such as the Road Back (鐵窗邊緣), Anti-Drug Special (毒海浮生), Sex Education (性本善), Doctor and You (醫生與你).
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 other hand, there has been local argument whether RTHK should be corporatised. Proponents of the idea argued for RTHK to become an independent corporation, separate from the government, so that it could achieve more flexibility, and more 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 pro-mainland China critics. Then in October that year, the Head of Radio Broadcasting, Ms. 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 the electronic media in terms of credibility. RTHK achieved second place overall when all the local newspapers and magazines were included.
On 8 June 2006, local English newspaper The Standard reported the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) arrested four people including a disc jockey and a deputy head on corruption-related charges. David Ho Chung-yan, a deputy head of RTHK 2 and disc jockey Vera Lee, were arrested for committing scams totaling about HK $70,000 from 1995 to 2001. They were alleged to have conspired and charged for writing scripts for various programmes that they did not write. Another former disc jockey (who goes under the nickname Kawaii) 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 criticized 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.
However, the sex scandal involving the Director of Broadcasting has been widely considered to be the most damaging and the worst scandal in RTHK's history.
In July 2007, former head of RTHK and Director of Broadcasting, Mr. Chu Pui Hing (朱培慶) was accidentally spotted by a group of journalists, while leaving a 'private club house' in Causeway Bay along with an unidentified female. Those journalists were actually waiting for veteran rock singer Kenny Bee who was having meal with his music crew and friends nearby when they met Mr. Chu head-to-head.
Mr. Chu appeared to be drunk and after he found out there was a group of journalists taking photos of him and his companion, he reacted disconcertingly by hiding behind her back. Photos became the main page headlines in some of the major Hong Kong newspapers the following day with some purported that the female companion, who was later identified as Coco, was a prostitute.
Mr. Chu, who was one year due to his official retirement from the government, subsequently decided to seek for 'early retirement' in the aftermath.
Source: Pinyin translated by Cozy Website