International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by allegations
of the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong exercising
undue political influence over the editorial policies of the Hong Kong-based
Digital Broadcasting Corporation.
Hong Kong’s Digital Broadcasting Corporation (DBC), the first digital radio station in Hong Kong closed on October 10, after
just four months on-air. The station was forced to cease operations after a
disagreement between shareholders, and a lack of funds to continue
broadcasting. However, there have been allegations that the closure was
the station’s shutdown, protests calling for media freedom and for government
intervention in the ongoing shareholder dispute were held outside the Hong Kong
the second day of the protests, October 20, a programme host of the station played
a tape on-air which reportedly exhibited that the Chinese Liaison Office – which
represents the Central Government of China in the special administrative region
of Hong Kong -- had sought to influence the
station’s editorial independence through the appointment of one of its hosts.
edited version of the tape, reportedly recorded secretly in May 2011 during a
meeting between Wong Cho-Bau and other shareholders including the founder of
DBC, Albert Cheng King-Hon, featured a discussion over the recruitment of the
programme host, Lee Wai-Ling. A veteran journalist, Lee is known for her criticism of both the Central China and Hong Kong
the tape, a man says: “I’ve mentioned to Peng about the recruitment of Lee as a
programme host. [The] Chinese Liaison Office dislikes [this] very much.”
the tape does not reveal the speaker’s identity, nor that of the person
referred to, it is widely believed by members of the public, and by the station
itself, that the voice is that of Wong Cho-Bau, and that the person identified
as Peng is the Director of the Chinese Liaison Office, Peng Qinghua.
tape also points to self-censorship - with discussion about attempts being made
to prevent the station criticising the Central and Hong Kong Government.
to reports from the South China Morning Post, Wong declined to comment about
the tape’s contents, but reportedly denied that he had spoken with the Chinese
Liaison Office regarding recruitment of the programme host.
of DBC, Albert Cheng, initially blamed the station’s
shut down on political interference by the Chinese Liaison Office, but later shifted his accusations towards the Government of Hong Kong.
Litigation is pending between Wong and Cheng, amid
allegations that Wong reneged on a deal to continue to invest money in the
urge Leung Chun-Ying, Chief Executive of Hong Kong to honour his promise to
uphold press freedom in Hong Kong, and call
for an independent inquiry to determine whether political influence was
exercised over the station’s editorial policy, and appointments, or had a hand
in its closure” said the IFJ Asia Pacific.
IFJ has reported on increases in
political influence and self-censorship in China, and moves by the governments to tighten flows of information and news coverage since the beginning of the
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131
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