Media of Hong Kong

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Media in Hong Kong)
Jump to: navigation, search

Media in Hong Kong are available to the public in the forms of: television and radio, newspapers, magazines and the Internet. They serve the local community by providing necessary information and entertainment.


Hong Kong is home to many of Asia's biggest media players and remains as one of the world's largest film industries.[1] The loose regulation over the establishment of a newspaper makes Hong Kong home to many international media such as Asian Wall Street Journal and FEER, and publications with anti-Communist backgrounds such as The Epoch Times which is funded by Falun Gong. It also once had numerous newspapers funded by Kuomintang of Taiwan but all of them were terminated due to the poor financial performance. The Holy See, who does not have an official diplomatic tie with China, publishes Kung Kao Po, a weekly newspaper published by the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong. Apple Daily and Oriental Daily News are the two best selling newspaper according to AC Nielsen, gaining more than 60% of readership. Both are known for its anti-Hong Kong government political positions, colorful presentations but sensational news reportage. Whereas Apple Daily is strongly regarded as pro-democracy, Oriental Daily is inclined to be pro-China government.

The freedom of press is effectively protected by the Bill of Rights,[2] in contrast to the rest of China where control over media is pervasive. According to the Reporters Without Borders, Hong Kong enjoys "real press freedom" and ranks the second in Asia after Japan in the Press Freedom Index. Different views over touchy topics like Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the dictatorship of the China Communist Party (CCP) and the democracy progress are still dynamically discussed among media. Many banned books in China, such as the memoir of Zhao Ziyang, the CCP party's leader stepped down in 1989, still find their homes in Hong Kong.

Although fears that the media in Hong Kong would lose their independence after 1997 have not yet to realize, worries that the business ties between Beijing and the media owners may affect the editorially-dynamic media have not been borne out. Several conglomerates are also known to exert influence through advertising revenue on editorial.

Besides self-censorship, yellow journalism is subject to a constant debate. Paparazzi and Infotainment, especially in the severely competitive Chinese language newspaper market, often lead to the voice for more control over media. However, newspapers in Hong Kong are also characterized by its prompt, responsive and outspoken report style.

In 2002, Hong Kong has:

  • Daily newspapers: 54
    • Chinese-language dailies: 27
    • English-language dailies: 3
    • English-language newspapers publishing 5 or 6 days a week: 6
    • Bilingual dailies: 5
    • Newspapers in other languages: 7
  • Free-to-air commercial TV companies: 3
  • Subscription TV licensees: 4
  • Non-domestic television programme licensees: 12
  • Government radio-television station: 1
  • Commercial radio stations: 2


Media authorities[edit]

Statutory bodies:

Non-Governmental bodies:

  • Press Council was established in July 2000. The objective of the Council is to promote the professional and ethical standards of the newspaper industry, defend press freedom, and deal with public complaints against local newspapers. It is an independent organization.[3]

Media regulation[edit]

Freedom of the press and publication are enshrined in Article 27 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution, and are also protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) under Article 39 of the Basic Law.

There is no law called "media law" in Hong Kong. Instead, the media are governed by statutory laws. In brief, there are 31 Ordinances that are directly related to mass media. Six of which are highlighted below.

  • Registration of Local Newspapers Ordinance (Cap. 268), provides for the registration of local newspapers and news agencies and the licensing of newspaper distributors.
  • Books Registration Ordinance (Cap. 142) (Cap. 106), provides for the registration and preservation of copies of books first printed, produced or published in Hong Kong.
  • Telecommunications Ordinance (Cap. 106), makes better provision for the licensing and control of telecommunications, telecommunications services and telecommunications apparatus and equipment.
  • Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (Cap. 390) controls and classifies articles which consist of or contain material that is obscene or indecent. Obscene Articles Tribunals are established to determine whether an article is obscene or indecent.
  • Broadcasting Authority Ordinance (Cap. 391), provides for the establishment and functions of a Broadcasting Authority.
  • Broadcasting Ordinance (Cap. 562), licenses companies to provide broadcasting services and regulate the provision of broadcasting services by licensees.

The rest of the Ordinances are of less importance since they do not aim at regulating mass media, but some of their provisions do affect the operation of media organizations and also the freedom of press.

The passing of Bill of Rights Ordinance (BORO) in 1986 strengthened the protection of fundamental human rights like press freedom or freedom of speech. This has been reflected in the loosening of control over mass media. Laws that violate the principle of press freedom are gradually amended. For example, section 27 of Public Order Ordinance, which criminalized the publishing of false news, was repealed in 1989.

Nonetheless, there are still concerns among the media sector that some existing laws may still undermine the freedom of the press and publication, e.g. Official Secrets Ordinance (Cap. 521) and Public Order Ordinance (Cap. 245).


Schema of media control by the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong


Hong Kong has two broadcast television stations, ATV and TVB. The latter, launched in 1967, was the territory's first free-to-air commercial station, and is currently the predominant TV station in the territory. Paid cable and satellite television have also been widespread. The production of Hong Kong's soap drama, comedy series and variety shows have reached mass audiences throughout the Chinese-speaking world. Many international and pan-Asian broadcasters are based in Hong Kong, including News Corporation's STAR TV. Hong Kong's terrestrial commercial TV networks, TVB and ATV, can also be seen in neighboring Guangdong Province and Macau (via cable).


  • Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) – government-funded, operates seven networks in Cantonese, Mandarin and English
  • Commercial Radio (CR) – operates CR1, CR2 networks in Cantonese and mediumwave (AM) English-language station AM 864
  • Metro Radio Hong Kong (MRHK) – operates Metro Showbiz, Metro Finance and English-language Metro Plus



Public space media[edit]

Online media[edit]

Media organisations[edit]

Media freedom[edit]

Although media freedom in Hong Kong is theoretically guaranteed by a bill of rights, the perceived freedom of the Hong Kong media according to the World Press Freedom Index ranks 61st out of 180 countries in 2014, having slid from 18th place in 2002.[5] Concerns have been brought about by a number of factors and high-profile incidents affecting the media. Pundits and journalists alike have been alarmed at the erosion of journalists' ability to report the news in an objective manner. Journalists have complained about sensitive news stories critical of the government that they have been under undisguised pressure to change or soften.[6] There has also been pressure on organisations including major financial institutions to pull advertising from newspapers that take a pro-democracy or anti-government stance, and the brazen attack on a respected newspaper editor;[7] PEN Center believes that the controversy surrounding CY Leung's dealings with UGL were seriously under-reported in some media outlets.[6] All told, the incidence of censorship, political pressure to self-censor and intimidation is increasing, according to PEN American Center, International Federation of Journalists.[7][8][9][10] The Hong Kong Journalists Association noted that there were at least 28 attacks on journalists covering the Umbrella Revolution.[9]



Ethical studies have been conducted by four journalism groups (Hong Kong Journalists Association,[11] Hong Kong News Executives' Association, Hong Kong Federation of Journalists, Hong Kong Press Photographers' Association). They could not deny the fact that the mass media were suffering decreasing respect of Hong Kong citizens. Journalism was no longer seen as a respectable profession. The public had little trust in newspapers. The news industry attributed this phenomenon to the citizens' complaints about the decreasing ethics of journalists.

Stories were exaggerated often violating privacy. A study was conducted by Hong Kong Journalists Association in early 2007 to find that 58.4% of journalists in Hong Kong considered that the degree of freedom of speech had decreased since the handover in 1997. Furthermore nearly 60% of the interviewed journalists also thought that more self-censorship had been practiced then than 1997.[12]

Yellow journalism[edit]

On 19 October 1998, a woman killed her two young children by pushing them out of a window from a high-rise building and then jumped to kill herself. The husband Chan Kin Hong was widely reported to have little remorse on their death, saying he has "high libido" but his wife lost sexual drive after giving a birth to the latest baby and he had to visit prostitutes regularly. He also met another woman and planned to have his new life.

He caused a significant public outcry. Some days later, Apple Daily published a front-page photograph showing Chan with two prostitutes soon after his family's deaths. It was later revealed that the newspaper had paid Chan to pose for the photograph and the newspaper subsequently published a front-page apology.

This incident and other concerns over increasingly aggressive news coverage and paparazzi in the intensive media battles for readers and viewers began widespread public discussions regarding press practices and accompanying ethical concerns that continue to this day over issues of privacy, responsible reporting and journalistic standards.[13]

National security[edit]

Further information: Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23

In 2003, the government attempted to implement the Article 23 of the Basic Law which prohibits crimes against national security and sedition. The bill states that it is a legal offense for media to be seditious and disclose national secrets, but the vague definition led to concerns that it may become a political tool for accusing dissidents' voices, as has happened in Mainland China.

The bill caused a significant public outrage and a mass demonstration of 500,000 people, forcing the government to withdraw the bill and several cabinet members to step down.

Capitalize on victims[edit]

Some nude photos of actress Carina Lau were distributed in East Magazine, and then Three Weekly in the span of a week. The photos were claimed to be taken in the early 90s when that actress was kidnapped. Though people from all social strata have shouted themselves hoarse to call on citizens to boycott the publications, many bought and read them even while condemning them for corrupting public morality. Those issues sold very well. Media ethics were raised as a hot topic; people investing in or working for "vile" publications were much criticized. As the public pressure grew, East Magazine finally ended publication.

Invasion of privacy[edit]

In August 2006, Gillian Chung of the local pop duo Twins filed a writ against Easyfinder Magazine for publishing photos of her changing backstage at a concert in Malaysia. This raised another media ethics and aggressive paparazzi concern. And again, the magazine sold well, printing two runs of the magazine, selling out twice.

The Hong Kong Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority received 2875 complaints regarding the revealing photos and the incident was referred to the Obscene Articles Tribunal for further action.[14] On 1 November 2006, Easy Finder lost its appeal against an obscenity ruling on the published article and pictures.[15] The appeal panel upheld the judgement, declaring the article "obscene", and saying it was a "calculated act of selling sexuality which is corrupting and revolting".[citation needed]

Violent assault on editor[edit]

Kevin Lau, who had been chief editor of the journal until January 2014, was attacked in the morning of 26 February 2014 as he was about to take breakfast at a restaurant in Sai Wan Ho, Hong Kong. He was seriously injured in a targeted knife attack. Journalists and press of the world saw the attack as an attack on press freedom. Thousands of people, led by leading journalists, attended a rally to denounce violence and intimidation of the media.[16]

Siege of Apple Daily and attacks aimed at media owner[edit]

During the Umbrella revolution in 2014, anti-occupation protesters besieged the headquarters of Next Media, publisher of Apple Daily. They accused the paper of biased reporting.[17] Masked men among the protesters prevented the loading of copies of Apple Daily as well as The New York Times onto delivery vans.[18] Apple Daily sought a court injunction and a High Court judge issued a temporary order to prevent any blocking of the entrance.[19]

On 12 November, media tycoon Jimmy Lai was the target of an offal attack at the occupied Admiralty site by three men, who were detained by volunteer marshalls for the protest site.[20][21] The offices of Next Media and the home of Jimmy Lai, who controls the group, were fire-bombed in mid January 2015.[10][22]

2015 Policy address controversy[edit]

In the opening and concluding parts of his 2015 policy address, CY Leung attacked University of Hong Kong Students' Union publication, Undergrad, for allegedly advocating independence and self-determination for Hong Kong. He also criticised another HKU publication, from 2013, entitled Hong Kong Nationalism.[23] He was criticised by pan-democrats and commentators for using the high-profile public address in an unprecedented attempt to undermine free speech and theoretical academic discussion by effectively declaring discussion of the topic "taboo".[24] The number two and number three government officials, Carrie Lam and John Tsang respectively, distanced themselves from Leung, suggesting that Leung's controversial criticism of the magazines was personal and written by Leung himself; Leung insisted it was a team effort.[25]

Sino United returns controversy[edit]

In January 2015, following CY Leung's attack on a compilation book entitled Hong Kong Nationalism, Joint Publishing, Chongwa, and Commercial Press – all owned by Sino United Publishing – de-listed the title.[4] Hong Kong media reported that Sino had published and was distributing at least five anti-Occupy titles, and its stores were displaying these prominently, whereas popular books on the Umbrella movement by pro-democracy authors had been banished from their shelves.[26] In March 2015, Up Publications, a small independent publishing house, complained that it was suddenly and unexpectedly faced with a large number of returns from the three main subsidiaries of Sino.[27] Twenty titles were affected by the returns, to the serious detriment to the finances of Up Publications; many of the titles returned were not politically themed. The publisher was allegedly told by a bookshop source that its stance in the 2014 occupation and its publishing of books supportive of the Umbrella Movement were responsible.[4] Although no reason was given for the returns, political motives were suspected as two of the delisted books about the occupation were strong sellers at independent bookshops.[4][27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BBC News – Hong Kong territory profile – Overview". BBC News. 
  2. ^ Bill of Rights, Hong Kong Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor
  3. ^ "Presscouncil." Hong Kong Press Council. Retrieved on 5 May 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d Lam, Jeffie (8 March 2015). "Hong Kong book giant in censorship row after returning title". South China Morning Post.
  5. ^ "A new play addresses the growing fear for journalists in Hong Kong". Washington Post. 
  6. ^ a b "IFJ: Reporters intimidated, media manipulated during protests". EJ Insight. 
  7. ^ a b "BBC News – Is Hong Kong's media under attack?". BBC News. 
  8. ^ "Press freedom in HK under threat: US writers group". EJ Insight. 
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ a b AFP (27 January 2015). Hong Kong media 'manipulated': report. China Post.
  11. ^
  12. ^ HJKja. "HKja." Article. Retrieved on 26 April 2007.
  13. ^ Michael Wong, "Lai in front-page apology for Apple's juicy widower stories", The Standard, 11 November 1998
  14. ^ "Hong Kong magazine to be prosecuted in pop star pictures row". The Raw Story. 
  15. ^ HONG KONG: Twin photograph ruling upheld
  16. ^ Siu, Beatrice (3 March 2014). "Pressing the point". The Standard.
  17. ^ Qi Luo (14 October 2014). "Apple gets taste of own medicine". The Standard.
  18. ^ "蘋果又被圍紐約時報發行亦受阻" [Apple Daily and The New York Times blocked]. 13 October 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  19. ^ "高院接受蘋果日報臨時禁制令禁阻出入通道" [High Court accepts injunction plea from Apple Daily to ban blocking passageways]. 13 October 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  20. ^ Staff Reporter (13 November 2014). "Offal attack on Lai as trio pelt tycoon with pig guts". The Standard. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  21. ^ AFP (12 November 2014). "Rotten offal hits HK media tycoon". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Cheng, Kevin; Wong, Hilary (16 January 2015). "CY trades barbs with democrats over free speech". The Standard
  24. ^ Benitez, Mary Ann; Lau, Kenneth (15 January 2015). 'Fallacies' in HKU magazine blasted. The Standard.
  25. ^ "Carrie Lam, John Tsang: Undergrad remarks CY Leung’s own views". EJ Insight. 
  26. ^ Lam, Jeffie (8 March 2015). "Beijing 'behind new wave of anti-occupy books'". Publishing – South China Morning Post.
  27. ^ a b "Book publisher says it’s being targeted by China-linked sellers". EJ Insight.