Hong Kong: Free-to-air broadcasters ordered to transmit patriotic programming

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive in Council has instated a mandatory minimum of 30 minutes of programming dedicated to ‘national education, national identity and the National Security Law’ per week, among other alterations. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the Hong Kong government’s latest attack on press freedom and independent programming and urges the Hong Kong Chief Executive in Council to respect press freedom and overturn the decision.

The Hong Kong flag and the PRC flag at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge on December 20, 2022. Credit: Vernon Yuen / NurPhoto via AFP

On February 14, the Hong Kong Communication Authority’s recommendations were accepted by the city’s Chief Executive in Council as a part of a mid-term review of the 12-year free-to-air broadcast licenses for TV licensees TVB, ViuTV and HOY TV, and radio channels Commercial Radio and Metro broadcast.   

As a part of new legislation, the five licensees will be required to include at least 30 minutes of programming dedicated to national education, national identity and the National Security Law (NSL) every week. Senior lecturers at Hong Kong’s Baptist University and the Chinese University’s school of journalism have identified the approach as congruent with China’s One Country, Two Systems approach of integrating the city with the mainland.  

Further recommendations include the halving of children’s programming and greater investment into programs for young people. Required broadcast hours for English-language programs on English-language broadcasters were axed from 80 per cent to 55 per cent. The restrictions will be mandatory for television and radio broadcasters using public airwaves.  

The IFJ’s report, The Story That Won’t Be Silenced: Hong Kong Freedom of Expression Report, released in October 2022 detailed the destruction of press freedom and civil liberties since the introduction of the 2020 NSL, and the stories of journalists, media workers and news outlets reporting from the city and beyond are documented. The IFJ is currently conducting work to greater understand and support Hong Kong journalists and media workers forced overseas by state repression and seek stronger engagement from governments, news outlets, unions and media practitioners on media issues to solve broader industry challenges for media sustainability. 

The IFJ said: “This decision by Hong Kong’s leadership represents the latest intrusion of the National Security Law into the city’s media landscape. Mandating 30-minutes of ‘patriotic’ programming is the government’s latest attack on press freedom and independent reporting. The IFJ condemns this change to broadcast regulations, and urges Hong Kong leadership to overturn their endorsement of the recommendations.” 

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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