Trial of radio presenters highlights need for greater media diversity in Hong Kong

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called for greater media diversity in Hong Kong in the lead up to the November 17 trial for pro-democracy radio presenters, Tsang Kin-Shing and Chan Miu-Tak of Citizen’s Radio, who face up to two years of jail and fines of up to 50,000 Hong Kong dollars (approximately 8,400 AUD) for unauthorised possession of broadcasting equipment.

According to IFJ affiliate, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), Citizen’s Radio’s application for an FM broadcasting license in 2005 had been deliberately delayed, and when the station proceeded to broadcast a trial service on Metro Finance’s FM wave band and on the internet, the Office of Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) repeatedly confiscated their equipment and raided their premises.

“While it is true that the presenters were breaking the law by broadcasting unlicensed, it is clear that their goal of increasing media pluralism in Hong Kong is an issue that must be addressed,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

“Excessive penalties such as a prison sentence and heavy fines is not the answer, and we call on the judicial authorities to revise the charges against Kin-Shing and Miu-Tak, and instead order an explanation from the OFTA on the delay in responding to Citizen’s Radio licence application,” Warren said.

Kin-Shing reportedly purchased a cheap transmitter online in 2005, and after several successful trial broadcasts, set up transmitters and antenna on the back of a truck and operated in different locations everyday.

In Hong Kong 72 of the 100 available frequencies are currently monopolised by 20 stations.

“Media pluralism is a vital catalyst to strengthen the cultural, political, social and economic prosperity in Hong Kong, and this cannot be achieved without more diversity on the airwaves,” Warren said.

The IFJ, the organisation representing over 500,000 journalists in 115 countries, urges authorities to make a stand for media diversity and freedom of expression in Hong Kong by opening up access to the airwaves, thereby creating a more widely informed and entertained community.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in 115 countries