Later today, August 14, the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Hong Kong (FCCHK) will host a lunch speech by pro-independence activist Andy Chan. RTHK has decided to ban a live-broadcast of the speech. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) have expressed concerns over the ban.
On July 30, the FCCHK announced that Chan would be the speaker at a lunch talk on August 14. In the following days, the Government intervened, pressuring the FCCHK to cancel the talk. Former chief executive of Hong Kong Leung Chun-ying hit out at the FCCHK, saying: “This matter of inviting Andy Chan Ho-tin to speak at the club has nothing to do with press freedom.”
According to the HKJA, on Thursday, August 10 during an internal meeting, RTHK management said that there should be no live broadcast or live-streaming of the talk. The management reportedly said RTHK should not provide a platform for the advocacy of Hong Kong independence. An RTHK spokesman confirmed the decision.
HKJA said: The RTHK management has labeled the talk as a move to “promote Hong Kong Independence” and, on the basis of which, has banned live coverage. Such move amounts to putting politics above professional news judgment, raising concern that it is an act of self-censorship. We reaffirm our position that government officials should not interfere with the editorial independence of RTHK.”
HKJA also called on the Government to clarify whether media organisations will be liable if they report, quote or live broadcast the talk or activities of certain individuals.
The IFJ said: “The decision by the RTHK management to ban the broadcast of Andy Chan’s speech today at FCCHK raises questions about the editorial independence of the broadcaster. The ongoing government pressure and attempted interference with Chan’s speech has only weakened press freedom in Hong Kong. We strongly support HKJA, FCCHK and the local media in standing strong against the pressure from the government.”
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