(19 September, 2017, Hong Kong) Since 2014, Charles Mok has been advocating the equal access right for online media to cover government events via repeated calls for review and pursuing the issue in the Legislative Council. The Information Services Department (ISD) today announces new measures to allow online media to register for government press conferences and media events. Mr Mok considers it a step in the right direction, yet cautions against excessive limitation and burden towards online media.
Mr Mok’s three remarks on the new arrangement for online media:
- According to the four requirements issued by the ISD, online media is obliged to register under the Registration of Local Newspapers Ordinance (Cap. 268). However, certain requirements in the Ordinance have failed to keep up with the Internet development and therefore may pose challenges to online media of smaller scale.
- ISD should issue clearer definition on the ‘originality’ of the news content and ‘misconduct’ of the representatives of the online media as stated in the guideline. Appeal mechanism should be established for the evaluation of the criteria to be conducted in an objective manner.
- The government should review the requirements stated in the Registration of Local Newspapers Ordinance (Cap. 268) to cater for the mode of operations of online media.
Article 27 of the Basic Law states that Hong Kong people enjoy the freedom of the press and of publication. Mr Mok urges the government to consult online media organisations for feedback, and refer to the practices of LegCo in issuing passes to online media. Restrictions that would hamper freedom of online media should be minimised.