Hong Kong drops BBC World Service to be replaced with Chinese state broadcaster

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The BBC World Service’s 24-hour broadcast has officially been stopped and replaced with China’s state radio in  .

Plans to halt the corporation’s near 40-year run of continuous broadcasting in the territory were . It will be replaced with Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK). 

The choice to transmit Chinese-state programming from China National Radio Hong Kong Edition, was said to “enhance the cultural exchange between the mainland and Hong Kong”.

Broadcasts will mostly be in Mandarin, rather than the territory’s Cantonese dialect.

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China National Radio caries no sensitive or critical reporting on China and critics have called the move a sign of encroaching Chinese control in the former British colony, where tensions between the island and Beijing’s ruling Communist Party leaders have been growing over recent years.  

Nearly 1,000 people signed an entitled, “RTHK: Give us back our BBC World Service!” which claimed removing it from the airwaves “makes the city feel more parochial and inward-looking”. 

RTHK is still set to air eight hours of BBC World Service programming, but only overnight between 11pm and 7am and occasionally on weekends.

A spokesperson for the station said there were no political considerations in the decision.

But staff at RTHK have claimed the switchover had been forced through without a broader consultation.

Hong Kong activists preserve the past Hong Kong activists preserve the past

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one senior editorial staff member said that “nobody knew anything about” the decision.

“We were told in a meeting just before it was announced,” they said. “People see it as a negative thing. The BBC is generally regarded as Independent, and (Chinese) state media is not.”

The Hong Kong government also revealed plans to stop digital audio broadcasting (DAB) after RTHK failed to attract large enough audiences on the format.

Five digital channels have now been taken off air, the reports.

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