Online media outlet DB Channel has announced plans to shut down operations in Hong Kong after the channel’s co-founder Frankie Fung was denied bail pending trial under the national security law.

The digital outlet founded during the 2019 protests said on Thursday night that it would let go of all “members” – volunteer unpaid journalists – based in Hong Kong after “weighing the risks,” while those abroad would not be affected.

DB Channel
DB Channel’s Facebook page. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The decision to shut down the local branch was linked to Fung’s bail hearing in the High Court on Thursday, another founder Nilk Wu told HKFP on Friday. The 24-year-old said he could not disclose further details because the proceedings are subject to reporting restrictions under the Criminal Procedure Ordinance.

“The DB Channel thanks all members for their hard work throughout the year, having no complaints as they documented this tumultuous era. Unfortunately, we cannot go against the tide anymore… we will head towards the dawn after a thousand miles,” Wu wrote on the channel’s Facebook page.

The DB Channel has more than 55,000 followers on Facebook and is followed by around 26,000 accounts on Instagram. Wu won a merit prize in the Human Rights Press Awards in May in the tertiary student writing category, while another journalist from the channel Alex Chan was crowned the winner in the tertiary student video and audio (Chinese) category.

Wu said the DB Channel, currently based in Taiwan, had fewer than 10 members in Hong Kong, while they have other people operating its online platforms “in different major time zones.” They are all unpaid, he said, adding the platform has not been able to access its bank account since November last year.

Nilk Wu
Nilk Wu. Photo: Nilk Wu, via Facebook.

Activist Fung is among 47 pro-democracy figures charged with “conspiracy to commit subversion” by organising or taking part in an unofficial legislative primary election in July last year. He quit the DB channel later that month.

Dozens of the defendants, including Fung, have been locked up for more than eight months awaiting trial, as national security suspects face tougher conditions when seeking bail. The democrats are set to appear in court again on November 29.

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Ho Long Sze Kelly is a Hong Kong-based journalist covering politics, criminal justice, human rights, social welfare and education. As a Senior Reporter at Hong Kong Free Press, she has covered the aftermath of the 2019 extradition bill protests and the Covid-19 pandemic extensively, as well as documented the transformation of her home city under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Kelly has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration. Prior to joining HKFP in 2020, she was on the frontlines covering the 2019 citywide unrest for South China Morning Post’s Young Post. She also covered sports and youth-related issues.