The Hong Kong Journalists’ Association (HKJA) welcomed with caution today the decision to lift a ban on digital-only news outlets attending government events and press conferences.
The government’s u-turn comes almost a year after the city’s Ombudsman ruled in favour of allowing digital media outlets to attend such events, and follows intense pressure on the Hong Kong government from local and international media watchdogs.
“We welcome the government’s long overdue decision to lift its bar of digital only media from its press functions. We will monitor the implementation of its accreditation policy to ensure all media are fairly treated. The result of the implementation will decide whether the Association will continue with the judicial review against the government’s online media policy. We call on the government to make corresponding adjustments to its press venues and functions to accommodate the expected increase in journalists,” a spokesperson said.
The FCC issued a statement saying it has long supported the demand by HKJA and all Hong Kong online-only media that they be treated equally to other “traditional” media. “The FCC shares the relief and satisfaction of all online media and salutes the government for this fair decision.”
Tom Grundy, editor-in-chief of digital-only Hong Kong Free Press added: “This long-overdue reform follows years of pressure from local and international press freedom watchdogs, criticism from media groups and NGOs, legal threats and hard work by reporters fighting for equal access rights. The Hong Kong government’s effort to modernise and recognise how voters consume news nowadays is commendable – we hope the new rules will create a fair, level playing field for all media.”
(i) It can provide proof of regular online news reports in the past three months immediately preceding the application;
(ii) It has been updating its news platform at least five days a week;
(iii) It is staffed by at least an editor and a reporter; and
(iv) It is registered under the Registration of Local Newspapers Ordinance (Cap. 268).
The ISD said it will review the arrangement after six months.
However, IT lawmaker Charles Mok cast doubt on the reliability of the accreditation rules, issuing a statement claiming that requiring digital outlets to register for accreditation under the Registration of Local Newspapers Ordinance was outdated.
The statement said: “Mr Mok’s three remarks on the new arrangement for online media: