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The Hong Kong government will launch a public consultation this year on the future of pubcaster Radio Television Hong Kong.

Frederic Ma Si-hang , the territory’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Saturday said the consultation would be detailed and could last six months.

“Some RTHK staff might worry the restructuring exercise is the equivalent of dismantling the station. I don’t want them to look at the issue from this angle,” Ma said.

RTHK, which owns radio stations but not TV channels, instead airing programming on other broadcasters’ networks, has been under a political cloud since March when the government laid out plans for a statutory independent pubcaster. However, it warned that RTHK might not be that company (Daily Variety, March 20).

Since then RTHK has been involved in a series of gaffes. Director of broadcasting Chui Pui-hing resigned following a well-publicized sex scandal; assistant broadcasting director Cheung Man-sun was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving; and last week prominent DJ Leung Ka-fai admitted fraud charges. Ma said the events had “damaged” RTHK’s image. Applications for Chui’s replacement closed Friday.