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Approaches to Public Administration

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Competing Values and Three Approaches to Public Administration


Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) has been comprehensively discussed since the 1980’s when the industry was not exploited. RTHK was subsequently transformed from a government department to a public broadcaster with recordings of progress and development. The positioning of Hong Kong as a regional broadcasting hub has been characterized by a series of innovations, programme choice, diversity and competition. This has enhanced Hong Kong’s place as not only a centre for information but also as a distinctive broadcasting powerhouse. The broadcasting sector in Hong Kong targets the audio and visual market. Commercial broadcasters are provided with licenses which enable them to air a range of educative and entertaining programmes. The RTHK has over years held talks and conferences with the government with the aim to discuss the future and development of RTHK.


The broadcasting industry review committee was a government department until 1986 when it was leased as a private company. The Beijing government was however opposed the move terming it as anti-government. After rows over the ownership and status, RTHK was finally allowed to legally restructure and act in the given capacity.


The broadcasting environment in Hong Kong, like elsewhere, has undergone phenomenal changes in recent years. Some of these changes have presented new challenges and caused an impact on the development of Public Service Broadcasting. There are three approaches to public administration. These are the managerial approach, political and the legal approach.

The managerial approach

The managerial approach is also known as the functional approach. This perspective focuses on the functions of management that steer an organization towards its aims and goals. The functional approach consists of six key functions: planning, organizing, directing, controlling, budgeting and personnel management. The case of Hong Kong and the broadcasting industry was comprehensively reviewed in the year 2006 with a management team put in place to discuss financial and corporate structures.  The Hong Kong milieu is unique in both political and socio-economic environment. A case in point is the transition from British colonial rule to being transformed into a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. The majority Chinese population and the executive-led government have driven Hong Kong to the necessity of creating a Public service broadcasting that meets all the needs of the citizens of Hong Kong.

The National Programming Radio (NPR) sources its funds from government grants, member stations, contributions and sponsorship and income from investment projects. The National Programming Radio (NPR) was established in 1992 with the major aim to establish fund initiatives that would shield the sector from difficult economic times. In addition, a code of ethics was established to safeguard journalism independence and the roles of programming staff and journalists in general.

The political approach

The Broadcasting Council consists of elected members from various sectors and political spheres to aid in independent programme monitoring. The legislature; a key component in law-making ensures adherence to the stipulated rules and regulations. For maximum accountability, political parties and trade unions are also involved. The role of the political approach is to advise the public service broadcaster on issues concerning programming and monitors its adherence to programming principles. In Hong Kong, it is the role of the Administrative Council to oversee the finance of the public service broadcaster. The Administrative Council is tasked with the preparation of the budget and also monitors the management and operation of the concerned broadcasters. 

The council serves as the management committee of the public service broadcaster. Most of the members of the council are appointed by the Broadcasting Council of Hong Kong. The committee comprises of elected members from the serving parliament or federal legislature, trade unions and political parties to ensure transparency and accountability. Furthermore, it is the role of the council to advise the public service broadcaster on programming-related issues and also monitors the adherence to programming principles.

Legal approach

The legal approach also known as the juridical approach studies the concept of public administration from an official and legal perspective with more interest in the structures provided for by the constitution. In this approach, public administration is interpreted in the scope of legal terms. The implementation of the laws of the state is a vital component in the ruling of subjects, usually the citizens. The laws of Hong Kong do not objectively define the term “public service broadcasting” although there is a statement on the provision of television programmes by the Government. As revealed by the panel established to probe the broadcasting issue established that the Public Service Board is an imperative mechanism that when properly implemented would ensure that the civil society is duly strengthened.


The development of a public service model in Hong Kong is not a state of apathy but rather there is light at the end of the tunnel. With the establishment of the broadcasting panel, continuous follow-up of the development of public service broadcasting will be in process. The Government should ensure that public involvement is accorded with the priority the process duly deserves. Public administration as noted should involve all stakeholders in the processes of policy formulation and implementation. 

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