LEGISLATIVE Councillor Martin Lee Chu-ming, claiming unfair news coverage during elections, has revived calls for a press council. He said a self-regulatory panel should be set up to ensure impartial reporting. A similar proposal was dropped in 1985 amid fears of government and communist influence or control. The councillor revived the proposal at yesterday's Legco Constitutional Development Panel meeting, mainly devoted to the discussion of electoral guidelines to be drawn up by the Boundary and Election Commission, which is soon to be formed. Mr Lee, chairman of the United Democrats of Hongkong, said the earlier the council was set up, the earlier the tradition of fair reporting could start. The news coverage he referred to was the ''negative'' campaign against his party's vice-chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan in the Legco New Territories West by-election last August. He said the media had reported allegations about Mr Ho made in posters, but had not given him a fair chance to defend himself. ''It's unfair to him, especially when he and the other contestant were competing neck-and-neck for the race,'' he said. Mr Ho lost the election to independent Tang Siu-tong. Mr Lee said those newspapers with the largest readership could take the lead and join the council first. He said worries expressed in 1985 ''might not even be justified'', and the issue deserved another look. Mr Lee was supported by Liberal Party legislator Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, who sat on the media council preparatory committee in 1985. In the absence of a press council and a long-standing tradition of fair reporting, Mrs Chow felt the introduction of a set of guidelines on news reporting on electoral matters would be worth considering. United Democrat Lee Wing-tat suggested the Boundary and Election Commission issue such guidelines. Chairman of the Hongkong Journalists' Association Daisy Li Yuet-wah said the pros and cons of a press council were on the group's agenda, but Mr Lee's call would give the issue added impetus. ''We, in principle, support the idea of having some kind of self-regulatory mechanism. But the question is that we are not quite sure whether the setting up of a press council is the right way ahead,'' she said. She believed the public was more concerned about ethics in journalism. The association would study overseas examples, including the press councils in Britain, Taiwan and Australia, before drawing a conclusion.