Citizens' Radio may seek legal review

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 December, 2006, 12:00am

Lawmakers question why government rejected broadcasting licence application

Citizens' Radio, which has been defying telecommunication laws by making unauthorised broadcasts since October last year, is considering launching a judicial review of the government's rejection of its application for a broadcasting licence.

A spokesman for the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau said the Chief Executive in Council had rejected the application after considering the view of the Broadcasting Authority and information submitted by Citizens' Radio.

Other factors taken into account included 'the feasibility of the applicant's technical proposal on the use of radio frequency spectrum, and the management, financial and technical capability of the applicant to establish and maintain a sound broadcasting service', said the spokesman.

Lawmaker and Citizens' Radio host 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung, who had previously threatened a judicial review because of undue delay in handling the application, said he was considering seeking a judicial review of the government's decision on the grounds that it restricts freedom of expression.

League of Social Democrats lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip said the decision showed the government's control over the media. He pledged to question officials about the decision when the Legislative Council's information technology and broadcasting panel meets in a month's time.

'I will raise a motion condemning the decision and demand an explanation,' said Mr Chan.

Leung vowed not to be silenced despite the charges laid against him and five others for making illegal broadcasts throughout October. He said he knew the Broadcasting Authority was not supportive of the application, but neither he nor any others involved with the station had been informed of the government's decision.

Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee called the decision disappointing and said there was a market for more radio stations, especially in a pluralistic society such as Hong Kong.

Ms Eu questioned why the Executive Council should have considered the 'financial and technical capability of the applicant' since Citizens' Radio had already proved it could broadcast.

'My point is not about suppression: my point is that the government's role should be to facilitate access to more stations, not limit it,' she said.

Eastern District councillor and founder of Citizens' Radio Tsang Kin-shing submitted its first application for a licence in September last year.

The station has broadcast on 102.8FM without a licence several times in the past 14 months, sparking a crackdown by telecommunications watchdog Ofta.

Leung, Tsang and four others will appear in Eastern Court on Friday. 'We definitely will not plead guilty,' Tsang said. 'We are not saying we didn't do it, but what we did was not wrong.'

They would continue to broadcast on the internet, he said.

A government spokeswoman had no comment on the possibility of a judicial review.