Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hong Kong Radio bust of pro-democracy station

An illegal Hong Kong radio station that featured regular broadcasts by pro-democracy activists has been raided by the police, a statement said today. Police swooped last night on Citizens Radio, a rebel radio station set up in October, seizing broadcast equipment and transmitters from the station's warehouse base. One man was also arrested. After months of investigations and close surveillance, we decided to take action, said a joint statement from the police and TELA, the broadcasting authority and watchdog.

Citizens Radio was launched last year with a broadcast by pro-democracy activist Tsang ôThe Bullö Kin-shing, a member of the radical April Fifth Action Group that also campaigns for the release of Chinese political prisoners. It was set up to counter what organisers see as the loss of media freedom in this southern Chinese territory since the former British colony reverted to Chinese sovereignty in July 1997.

Our freedom of expression has been severely attacked, Tsang said at the launch. ôWe are hoping this will give the general citizens a different platform to express their opinions and voice their complaints about unfairness in society. Run by a group of 10 activists, it broadcast on the same frequency as a station owned by local tycoon Li Ka-shing. The activists had applied last year for a license from TELA to operate a radio station but had yet to receive a response.

Three outspoken radio personalities were either sacked or resigned in 2004, claiming to have received threats over their on-air attacks on the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities. Some of Hong Kong's media barons have been accused of compromising their editorial independence in return for offers from Chinese authorities of lucrative advertising deals and access to mainland markets.

(Source: AFP/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)