Hong Kong’s public broadcaster has dropped a 24-hour BBC’s World Service radio channel, and replaced it with Chinese state radio.
The Chinese station broadcasts mostly in Mandarin, not the city’s main Cantonese dialect.
The BBC service has been broadcast continually on Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) since 1978.
Critics say the change is evidence of the gradual encroachment of mainland Chinese state media into Hong Kong.
This, they say, is leading to increased censorship in the Chinese territory that was a British colony until 1997.
The BBC said it was “always disappointed when a service our listeners are used to changes”.
But added that the World Service was “doing everything we can to ensure we continue to reach our audiences.”
It also confirmed the BBC radio station would still be available to listeners overnight on RTHK and available 24 hours via the internet and on the Telstar 18 DTH satellite platform for people in Hong Kong with a domestic satellite dish.
An online petition signed by almost 1,000 people said the move would make the city “feel more parochial and inward-looking”.
But a spokesperson for RTHK told Reuters that the decision was not influenced by politics, and that the adoption of China National Radio would enhance cultural exchanges.
It said the BBC channel would still be broadcast for eight hours overnight, and occasionally during weekends.
The BBC statement added that RTHK had also “agreed to consider including some BBC World Service English programmes in their daytime schedules”.