Democrat chief Emily Lau slams TVB for Next Media ban

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 November, 2013, 6:12am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 November, 2013, 6:12am

Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing left a TVB interviewer speechless when she used a live appearance on the station to slam it for leaving Next Media journalists out in the cold.

Lau, herself a former TVB journalist, capped a tumultuous week for the city's dominant television broadcaster with her comments during the current affairs show On The Record.

"Before I start discussing anything, I have to speak up for the Next Media reporters outside the gates," she said after host Ho Man-man asked her a question about the visit by Beijing official Li Fei . "TVB should not ban reporters from covering news. I deeply regret this."

Ho appeared taken aback and did not address Lau's comments. Lau said she had not wanted to put the journalist on the spot but felt she had to say something.

The row started on Thursday, when TVB announced it would ban Next Media, owned by pro-democracy tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, from its press conferences and promotional events.

It accuses Next and its flagship newspaper Apple Daily of bias in its reporting of the saga over the government's refusal to grant a free-to-air television licence to Hong Kong Television Network.

"The incident has … infringed the freedom of press," Lau told Next Media journalists as she left the studio. "TVB has set a bad example for the public."

She urged TVB to settle its difference with Next Media in other ways. TVB's ban on Next Media is believed to be the first time a listed Hong Kong media company has barred another from covering its events. Apple Daily editor Cheung Kim-hung expressed regret over TVB's decision but denied vilifying the station.