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BBC Chinese: Hong Kong to Exempt National Security Related TV Programs from Being Unbiased

BBC Chinese recently reported that the Hong Kong Communications Authority recently proposed amendments to Hong Hong’s media bias law. The core purpose of the proposed amendment is to remove the requirement that Hong Kong media be unbiased when broadcasting on the topic of Hong Kong’s national security laws and national education.

Currently, Hong Kong’s radio and television programs are required to comply with an “equity requirement” emphasizing “appropriate balance.” This means that when the program reports different opinions, the reporting must fair and impartial; it should try to reflect all major and important points of view in order to strike a balance; it should not conceal facts in a biased manner, or mislead the audience by downplaying or overemphasizing facts. This requirement for “equity” may violate the Hong Kong District National Security Law, motivating the proposed amendment.

The media affected by the proposed amendment include Hong Kong’s three “free TV licensees” (TVB, Hong Kong TV Entertainment (ViuTV), and Fantastic TV (HOY TV)) as well as two “sound broadcasting licensees” (Hong Kong Commercial Radio and Metro Radio). The authorities made clear that the “unbiased” requirement does not apply to programs related to national security, and the exemption can facilitate the “risk free” operation of licensees that are required to air programs that “correctly interpret the Hong Kong National Security Law” for minimum 30 minute per week.

The government proposals have aroused widespread social controversy in Hong Kong, with many residents voicing concerns that media reporting on national security would no longer be required to be unbiased. The press worried that the move would set a bad precedent and further narrow the space for free speech in Hong Kong. Some scholars criticized the authorities’ actions as violating the professionalism of the media, saying that the proposed legislation reflects how Hong Kong is getting closer to Mainland China’s broadcasting concept of “the media is the mouthpiece of the party and the state”.

Source: BBC Chinese, July 24, 2023