The Communications Authority received 10,372 complaints relating to broadcasters last year, 1,174 of which were found to be substantiated. Only one of the cases resulted in a fine.

The complaints involved 2,247 cases in total, and 6.1 percent – meaning 138 of these cases – were determined to be substantiated, Sing Tao reported. The majority of the complaints had to do with programmes with inaccurate or biased information, as well as problems with subtitles.

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Most of the substantiated cases were deemed to be minor breaches, while 13 of them had to be passed to the Broadcast Complaints Committee. The watchdog body also said that of the cases, 12 were advised or strongly advised, one was given a warning, and one was fined, RTHK reported.

See also: Viewers outraged as simplified Chinese subtitles appear on TVB news programme

The fine related to ATV’s announcement last March that the station’s then-boss, Wong Ching, had sold his stake to HKTV’s Ricky Wong Wai-kay, when in fact there was no such deal. Shortly after, the government announced that it would not be renewing ATV’s free-to-air licence.

ambrose ho
Ambrose Ho. File

At a meeting with the media on Monday, Communication Authority chairperson Ambrose Ho said that because ATV had seriously violated the law and the terms of its licence, they had previously decided to temporarily suspend its licence for 30 days. However, later in March they decided not to execute the decision as ATV was due to go off the air.

Commenting on the Executive Council’s successful appeal against HKTV’s judicial review, which challenged the government’s decision to not award the channel a licence, Ho said that recommendations which the Communications Authority made to the Executive Council were not binding, and that the two bodies might differ in their opinions on what constituted public interest, Ming Pao reported.

See also: Gov’t receives 104 complaints after character in TVB drama says ‘insulting police’ is a crime

Ho also said that the judgment might not impact the body’s future decisions, as it merely gave an interpretation to the 1998 policy to gradually open up the television market; it did not weigh the policy’s advantages and the disadvantages.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.