Hong Kong Protesters Demanding Transparency
23 octubre, 2013
Last week, China’s government promised to improve information transparency within the nation. This would have meant that accurate information would be more easily accessible to the people of China in a timelier manner. According to an article posted by Xinhuanet (the online official news agency of China), the office of the Premier of China recommended that all governments at all levels throughout the nation “adopt various new media channels to release information and interact with the public.”
Prompted by The State Council’s recommendation, a startup news operator in Hong Kong, Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV), put in a bid for a free-to-air license. However, Hong Kong’s government declined the bid from HKTV and, according to South China Morning Post, approved two bids from PCCW and I-Cable. This decision to grant free-to-air programming licenses to two agencies controlled by billionaires over a startup agency, “reflects concerns that Hong Kong’s policies favor big business, lack accountability and may undermine freedom of speech in the semi-autonomous Chinese city” (Bloomberg).
The government and their affiliated news source, Xinhuanet, have declined to release a statement to detail the reasoning behind their decision on denying HKTV’s free-to-air license. However, according to Channel News Asia, “authorities had on Saturday reiterated that ‘political considerations’ played no part in their decision to deny HKTV a broadcast licence, pointing out that the decision-making process was ‘fair and followed proper procedure.'”
In response to the decision made by Hong Kong’s government, many citizens have become outraged, resulting in a mass protest with reports of 20,000 to 120,000 participants, although no official count was taken (BBC, SCMP, Channel News Asia). This protest is an expression of the people of Hong Kong’s distrust and frustration with their government. According to the chairman of HKTV, Ricky Wong Wai-Kay, people wanted HKTV to obtain the free-to-air license to give viewers more choice, but that the protest was not sparked by this, but instead by “whether the authorities respected people’s needs and whether Hong Kong was still governed by the rule of law” (SCMP). He also stated that he believes the decision was “unreasonable, unfair and lacks transparency” (Bloomberg Businessweek).
In addition to the tens of thousands of protesters responding to the decision of Hong Kong’s government to deny HKTV a free-to-air programming license, Hong Kong Television Network has formally announced that they plan to seek judicial review of this decision (TheStandard Hong Kong). According to Jayne Stars Hong Kong, Chairman Ricky Wong stated that the Hong Kong Broadcasting Authority had originally suggested that three new free-to-air programming licenses would be granted, and he “claimed that the government had violated procedural justice, as HKTV was rejected although it was not the weakest applicant” (Jayne Stars). Protests and demonstrations, including personnel of HKTV camping out in front of the government building, are believed to continue as well as additional demonstrations believed to begin until an explanation is given, or a recant of the decision is announced (Jayne Stars).