A motion calling for the opening up of radio bandwidth was voted down by the Legislative Council yesterday amid heated debate on freedom of speech. The motion, by the League of Social Democrats' Albert Chan Wai-yip, said the move was needed because the forum for public speech was diminishing. The party also called for the establishment of public access television channels and early implementation of digital broadcasting. Tsang Yok-sing, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said his party disagreed that freedom of speech was under threat. Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Frederick Ma Si-hang, also denied the platform for freedom of speech in Hong Kong was shrinking. Mr Ma said airwave use was restricted to conserve a valuable public resource and there was no pressing need to establish community stations because minority groups in Hong Kong only accounted for 4 per cent of the population. But Fermi Wong Wai-fun, executive director of minority rights group Hong Kong Unison, said public radio stations for minority groups were sorely needed. In the 2006 Worldwide Press Freedom Index, released by international organisation Reporters Without Borders last month, Hong Kong slipped 19 places to 58th. The motion was voted down in the functional constituencies by 12 votes to four. However, it passed 13-7 in the geographical constituencies.