The International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ) joins its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HJKA) in
expressing disappointment at the increase in self-censorship by media revealed
in a recent media survey and moves by the government of Hong Kong to tighten
flows of information and news coverage.
On June 24, the HJKA released a press freedom survey of 663 respondents, indicating a growing prevalence of censorship in the reporting activities of Hong Kong’s media.
The most worrying result is that the report from the HKJA noted that 92.7% of media personnel said that they believe press freedom in Hong Kong is reducing due to the tightening of local government controls. Other factors nominated by respondents include self-censorship within the industry (71%), interference by the Chinese
Liaison Office in Hong Kong (67.5%) and interference by the business sector and conglomerates (35.9%). Respondents were able to
nominate multiple choices in their responses.
According to the survey, 79.2% of respondents
believe that self-censorship in 2012 is more serious than in 2005, during the
tenure of Chief Executive Donald Tsang. 35.9% of respondents admitted that they
themselves or their supervisors had practiced self-censorship of their
reporting in the past twelve months. In 2007, this figure was 29.5%; with a
further 39.6% responding at that time, that their colleagues and supervisors
According to the survey, respondents reported
bowing to censorship pressure concerning the following topics:
- Information unfavourable to advertisers (40.3%)
- Information unfavourable to the Central Government (37%)
- Issues or information detrimental to the media owners or their interests (34.5%)
- News in favour of Chief Executive candidates (33.6%
- Information unfavourable to the SAR Government (28%); and
- News in favour of the SAR Government (23%).
During the lead up to the election for the
new Chief Executive of Hong
March 25 this year,the
IFJ reportedallegations that the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong had interfered
with the reporting of the election of the new Chief Executive by local media.
The recent survey published by the HKJA found
that 34.5%of respondents said that blatant infringements of press freedom were
occurring as a result of pressure that came from the Chinese Liaison Office.
Recent examples of political interference in
the media include thealtering
of an articlewritten by commentator Johnny YS Lau for Sing Pao, which was altered to reflect
support for the mainland China-supported candidate for Chief Executive.
Lau’s contract was subsequently terminated on April
12, 2012, without explanation. The newspaper has continued to self-censor, with
a column about blind activist Chen Guangcheng removed from its official website
on April 30.
In the wake of the deterioration of press freedom
in Hong Kong, and the troubling findings of the HKJA media survey, the IFJ calls on the Government
of Hong Kong to ensure greater respect for press freedom.
The IFJ urges outgoing Chief Executive Donald
Tsang, and Chief Executive Elect, CY Leung to pledge to investigate all
allegations of political interference into the reporting of Hong Kong’s media
and ensure that press freedom is protected in Hong Kong.
“An unfettered press is one of the cornerstones of
any democracy, and the media has a duty to report impartially in the public
interest” the IFJ Asia-Pacific office said.
“Attempts by governments or the private sector to
interfere in the independence of the media are damaging to democracy, and
should not be tolerated.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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