Media of Hong Kong

Media of Hong Kong

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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

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

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).



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



This list is very incomplete.

Internet radio stations

These are non-profit and unregulated internet radio stations operated by hobbyists and non-profit organisations. Most of these stations tend to be quite political and influential, although a variety of apolitical programs are gradually appearing in prominence.

Public space media

Media organizations



Ethical studies have been conducted by four journalism groups (Hong Kong Journalists Association,[4] 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.[5]

Yellow Journalism

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.[6]

National Security

In 2003, the government attempted to implement the so-called Article 23 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 a concern that it may become a political tool for accusing dissidents' voice, as happened in the 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

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

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.[7] On 1 November 2006, Easy Finder lost its appeal against an obscenity ruling on the published article and pictures.[8] 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]

See also


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