Citizens' Radio

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Citizen's radio on 13 January 2008 fighting for universal suffrage. Tsang Kin Shing on the left, Albert Chan on the right

Citizens' Radio (Chinese: 民間電台) is a radio station in Hong Kong established by pro-democracy camp figure Tsang Kin Shing (曾健成). The station is run as a non-profit organization. It started trial broadcasting on 3 October 2005 on 102.8 MHz FM. The regular broadcasting hours are 7:00 pm–12:00 pm from Monday to Friday. The programmes can be heard in parts of Hong Kong Island, most of Kowloon, and on the Internet.

Purpose[edit]

The principle of the station is "Be open and bravely speak out", so the main type of programming is a speech-based "phone-in" format. Sometimes Hong Kong legislators are invited as special guests. The station has also made live broadcasts of the Hong Kong 1 July marches and Vindicate 4 June and Relay Torch in the past.

Tsang has submitted an application for a sound broadcasting licence to the Broadcasting Authority, but the application is still pending. So technically speaking Citizens Radio's broadcasts are illegal. On 29 August 2006 with the court search warrant, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority forced the station to close down. But the station resumed broadcasting on 4 October 2006. The station has been repeatedly raided by the Telecommunications Authority since but it kept on broadcasting as a form of civil disobedience.

Citizens' Radio broadcast incident[edit]

Event[edit]

On 25 May 2007 Szeto Wah was speaking in a Mong Kok pedestrianised street hosted by Citizen's Radio. The topic of the programme involved the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.[1]

Charges[edit]

Eight people including Szeto Wah were prosecuted.[2] According to the summons, Szeto was using unlicensed radio equipment when delivering the political message. Only the chief executive or the director general of the Telecommunications Authority have the power to approve licences for such equipment.

Selective prosecution[edit]

Szeto said he was discriminated against for this event, and had appeared on the same station before without being charged.[1] Other members who have spoken on the radio station included Anthony Cheung Bing Leung and legislator Choy So-yuk of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong. They were not charged.[1][2] Leung Kwok-hung (Longhair) added that this is "selective prosecution". Mak Yin-ting (麥燕婷), general secretary of the Hong Kong Journalists Association have said "Everything is subject to government discretion. The government can grant or deny you a license as long as it wishes. It is not in accordance with the rule of law."[3]

Others[edit]

After the prosecution, Hong Kong's Secretary for Justice Wong Yan Lung (黃仁龍) slumped to a six-month low in public confidence.[4]

The latest case follows an ongoing lawsuit in which Tsang and Leung are arguing that the Telecommunications Ordinance, specifically the granting of broadcasting licences, was unconstitutional.[5]

Post charges broadcasts[edit]

  • On 20 April 2008 the station made a broadcast in Mong Kok after a three months break. It was hosted by radio founder Tsang Kin-shing. He was joined by veteran pro-democracy activist Szeto Wah and chairman of the League of Social Democrats Wong Yuk-man (黃毓民). Five other legislators also took part in the unlicensed broadcast.[6]
  • On 4 May 2008 another public broadcast was made at Times Square.[7]

Court[edit]

  • On 8 Jan 2008 the ruling by magistrate Douglas Yau Tak-hong (游德康) said certain provisions of the broadcasting law in the Telecommunication Ordinance was unconstitutional.[8]
  • On 23 May 2008 six lawmakers and five democracy activists appeared in Eastern district court. The case was adjourned until 15 October 2008 waiting for the ruling of Douglas Yau.[9][10]
English name
(jyutping or pinyin depending on media coverage)
Chinese name Representing
Lee Cheuk-yan 李卓人 Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions
Emily Lau Wai-hing 劉慧卿 The Frontier
Lee Wing-tat 李永達 Democratic party
Fernando Cheung 張超雄 Civic Party
Albert Chan 陳偉業 League of Social Democrats
Leung Kwok-hung 梁國雄 League of Social Democrats
Tsang Kin-shing 曾健成 Activists, founder of station
Lo Hom-chau 羅就 Activists
Yang Kuang 楊匡 Activists
Ko Wah-bing 柯華 Activists
Poon Tat-keung 潘達強 Activists
  • On 10 Sept 2008 the rulings by magistrate Douglas Yau will be heard in the Court of Appeal.[10]
  • On 12 Dec 2008 the HK government won its appeal against the dismissal of charges against Citizens' Radio activists for broadcasting without a licence.[11]

Raid[edit]

The Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) mounted an enforcement operation against Citizens' Radio and raided the radio equipment on 19 December 2008.[12] Activist Tsang Kin-shing said the equipment was worth HK$20,000 to HK$30,000.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Standard. "Comment." Szeto faces Citizens' Radio rap. Retrieved on 30 Dec. 2007.
  2. ^ a b Alliance.org.hk. ""Szeto Wah under Prosecution" Retrieved on 29 Dec. 2007.
  3. ^ Taipeitimes. ""Hong Kong station defies ban." Retrieved on 26 May 2008.
  4. ^ South China morning post. "Controversies appear to shake public confidence in two ministers." Retrieved on 29 Dec. 2007.
  5. ^ HKreporter. ""Szeto faces citizen's radio rap." Retrieved on 30 Dec. 2007.
  6. ^ South China morning post. "Citizens' Radio broadcasters could face prosecution." Retrieved on 21 Apr. 2008.
  7. ^ The Standard. ""Citizens' Radio defies law at Times Square." Retrieved on 5 May 2008.
  8. ^ Variety. ""Hong Kong radio law ruled unconstitutional." Retrieved on 26 May 2008.
  9. ^ Mingpao. ""6議員民間廣播被控." Retrieved on 26 May 2008.
  10. ^ a b South China morning post. "Citizens' Radio activists appear in court." Retrieved on 26 May 2008.
  11. ^ South China Morning Post. 28 December 2008. "Citizens' Radio to fight ruling." Retrieved on 5 Jan. 2009.
  12. ^ Chinatechnews. ""Enforcement Action Against Suspected Illegal Radio Broadcasting In Hong Kong." Retrieved on 5 Jan. 2009.
  13. ^ South China Morning Post. 20 December 2008." Ofta raids Citizens' Radio." Retrieved on 5 Jan. 2009.

External links[edit]