Tens of thousands of protesters gathered throughout Hong Kong’s government headquarters in Admiralty yesterday to defend the city’s ‘core values’ surrounding the recent decision to deny Hong Kong Television Networks (HKTV) a free-to-air TV license, SCMP reports.
HKTV chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay, who did not take part in the rally, said the issue was no longer about giving viewers more choice but whether the authorities respected people’s needs and whether Hong Kong was still governed by the rule of law.
About 100 HKTV staff formed a “justice alliance” and said they would camp at the Tamar site until an explanation was given to the company, which lost out last week when the government granted only two licences, to i-Cable’s Fantastic TV and PCCW’s Hong Kong Television Entertainment. The staff protesters will show HKTV shows on large projectors every night at 8pm
Although there was no official count of attendance, police estimated that around 36,000 people took part in rally, while HKTV suggested that as many as 80,000 protesters crowded the government headquarters and demanded an explanation for its denial of a free-to-air license to HKTV despite granting two other free-TV permits.
Marchers, dressed in black, held up banners depicting officials on puppet strings, according to Bloomberg.
There was no political consideration in the licensing decision, a spokesman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said in a statement yesterday. Decisions regarding free TV license applications are made by the Chief Executive in Council, and the discussion content of Executive Council meetings isn’t made public. “There should be no exception with regard to the discussion of the free TV license applications this time,” the spokesman said.
HKTV staff and artists gave speeches inquiring why their efforts in the TV industry were being flat denied with no reason, while members of the public said that the government was crushing the city’s core values, according to SCMP.
Other participants joining in the rally spoke out to reporters justifying their attendance yesterday. “The government, including the People’s Republic of China government, want to control the media and to manipulate the mindset of us so they can format a group of new Hong Kong people who only know to follow their instructions,” a freelancer named Stephanie Tang was quoted as saying. “We want to tell the PRC that the Hong Kong people are not idiots. Don’t cheat us.”
“It’s not about any one company,” another protester named Simon Ngai said. “In Hong Kong nowadays, the government says they don’t have to give you a reason or an appeal procedure, nothing — it’s not justice.”