The Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) will host a luncheon talk by Andy Chan Ho-tin, convener of the Hong Kong National Party, on next Tuesday. According to news reports, the management of RTHK said at an internal meeting today (Thursday) 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. RTHK spokesman confirmed the decision.
HKJA expresses deep regret over the ban. We worry that the decision was made on the basis of political consideration rather than professional news judgment.
We regard Chan’s talk at FCC a news event, which has drawn a lot of public and media attention. It is normal and common practice for journalists to report the event in different ways, including live coverage. 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.
In the past few days, officials from the Central Government and the Hong Kong Government have criticised the FCC for inviting Chan to give a talk. It has given rise to worries that the ban could be a result of pressure exerted by government officials on RTHK’s management. We reaffirm our position that government officials should not interfere with the editorial independence of RTHK.
HKJA has earlier expressed worries about the criticism made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ office in Hong Kong and the Government against the FCC talk would result in media self censorship. We are concerned that the RTHK ban might be an immediate case of its kind.
We have expressed worries that media organisations might be deemed as participating unlawful activities if they report those organisations and their representatives after they are being banned and declared as illegal societies.
HKJA has been urging the Government to clarify whether media organisations will be liable to accusations of promoting certain ideas if they report, quote or live broadcast the talk or activities of certain individuals. The RTHK’s ban shows the Government needs to clear the air to allay possible fears and concerns of journalists.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
9 August 2018