Hongkongers’ satisfaction with press freedom has dropped to its lowest point since 1997, according to a survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme.

The university research unit interviewed 1,006 Hong Kong people in April by telephone. It found that 46 percent of interviewees were satisfied and 33 percent were dissatisfied with press freedom, resulting in a net satisfaction rate of positive 13 percentage points – a slight drop. The change – which is within the survey’s sampling error range – represents a new low since the 1997 handover.

newspapers in hk
Photo: HKFP.

However, public net satisfaction with the news media has increased by 10 percentage points to positive 39 percentage points.

See also: ‘Eroded at its roots’: Press freedom in Hong Kong hits new low, watchdog says

press freedom

The survey also found that people mostly obtained their news from television and the internet. While newspapers remain in third place, the percentage of those who considered it their main source of news hit a 16-year low.

Interviewees were most satisfied with the performance of radio, whereas television – in second place – hit a historical low with a net satisfaction rate of positive 35 percentage points.

Hong Kong Journalist Association chair Sham Yee-lan.
Hong Kong Journalist Association chair Sham Yee-lan. File

Fifty-two percent of the interviewees believed that Hong Kong’s news media had practised self-censorship, mainly due to their hesitation in criticising the central government. Thirty-five percent considered the local media to be responsible, while 29 percent regard them as irresponsible.

hku pop
Photo: HKUPOP.

While 60 percent feel that local media has given full play to freedom of speech, 55 percent said that they have misused or abused the freedom of press.

Hong Kong Journalist Association Chairperson Sham Yee-lan told Ming Pao that the confidence towards press freedom has been shaken with incidents such as the case of the five missing booksellers. She urged the government to legislate to protect whistleblowers.


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.