HKTV row testifies to 'unconstitutional licensing regime', viewers tell court

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 May, 2014, 4:21am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 May, 2014, 4:21am

Two television viewers criticised the government as an "unconstitutional licensing regime" for denying Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) a free-to-air licence and failing to explain the decision, a court heard yesterday.

Kwok Cheuk-kin and Freeman Lam Hon-fei claimed the Chief Executive in Council's decision deprived them of their freedom of receiving information.

They asked the Court of First Instance for permission to challenge it in a judicial review.

Barrister Audrey Eu Yuet-mee SC, for the pair, said freedom of receiving information came with freedom of expression.

Both rights were protected under the Basic Law, she said.

"It is the cornerstone of every society, that we have the right of receiving information," Eu said. The pair's challenge was not limited to HKTV but was relevant to all applicants rejected without a full explanation, she said.

Barrister Benjamin Yu SC, for the government, argued that Kwok and Lam did not have sufficient interest to seek a review of the October 15 decision.

Their interest was in watching HKTV, Yu said, whereas the subject matter was whether the station should obtain a licence.

He noted that HKTV had also applied for a judicial review and was in a better position to dispute the licensing move than the pair.

He also argued "freedom of receiving information" applied only to information that already existed, not what was to come. Since HKTV had not begun broadcasting, the pair were not deprived of their rights. Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung adjourned the hearing to May 28.