RSF urges Hong Kong government to withdraw regulation forcing media to air propaganda
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the Hong Kong government to withdraw a newly-adopted regulation that orders five free-to-air TV and radio broadcasters to transmit 30 minutes of “national security” propaganda programmes per week.
On Tuesday 14th February, the government adopted a measure imposing on five free-to-air television and radio broadcasters to transmit 30 minutes of “national security” propaganda programmes per week as part of the mid-term review of their 12-year licence. Three TV stations, namely TVB, ViuTV and HOY TV, and two radio stations, Commercial Radio and Metro Broadcast, must now air “no less than 30 minutes” of propaganda per week, including content relating to “national education, national identity and National Security Law”, under the news “current affairs” category.
“In Hong Kong like anywhere else, the purpose of the media is to impart independent information for the benefit of the public, and forcing them to broadcast state propaganda in the name of national security is just unacceptable. We call on the Hong Kong government to withdraw this measure, and more generally to restore full press freedom as enshrined in the Basic Law.
Imposing propaganda contents to the media is unfortunately a common practice in mainland China, where the regime imposes an increasing number of rules and guidelines destined to make the media become a mouthpiece of the Communist Party. The most notable example is Xinwen Lianbo, a 30-minutes daily evening propaganda programme produced by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) over the past 45 years was simultaneously aired by all local public TV stations.
Since the adoption by the Chinese regime of National Security Law in June 2020, the Hong Kong government has been leading an unprecedented campaign against the right to information, resulting in the prosecution of at least 28 journalists and press freedom defenders, 13 of whom are currently detained, including 2020 RSF Press Freedom Prize laureate Jimmy Lai. In the past two years, authorities shutdown by force two major independent media outlets Apple Daily and Stand News, while the climate of fear led at least five smaller media outlets to cease operations.
In a report titled The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China, published in December 2021, RSF revealed the system of censorship and information control established by the Chinese regime and the global threat it poses to press freedom and democracy.
Hong Kong, once a bastion of press freedom, has plummeted from 80th place in 2021 to 148th place in the 2022 RSF World Press Freedom Index, marking the index’s sharpest drop of the year.