Hongkongers’ satisfaction with press freedom and media outlets in the city has dropped to a record low, a poll has found.

The Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI) published the results of a telephone survey involving 1,004 respondents’ “appraisal of news media.”

File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The survey found that 28 per cent of respondents said they were satisfied with the level of press freedom in Hong Kong, the lowest rate since records began in September 1997. However, the score on media outlets’ credibility increased from 4.81 to 4.94, with 10 being the highest score.

The overall satisfaction with media outlets’ performance also dropped from last year’s eight per cent to this year’s two per cent, a record low since records began in September 1997.

Of the types of news outlets, satisfaction decreased the most for online media, from 22 per cent last year to 12 per cent this year.

The poll also reported a record-high proportion of respondents, 46 per cent, saying that news outlets in the city did not utilise their freedom of speech, the highest rate since September 1997.

Diversity is key

Chris Yeung, former chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalist Association and founder of the now-defunct online outlet Citizen News, said that the closure of several media outlets was “definitely” a factor contributing to people’s dissatisfaction with press freedom.

Former chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalists Association Chris Yeung (left), and Chung Kim-wah (right), deputy chief executive officer of HKPORI. Photo: HKPORI, via video screenshot.

Hong Kong saw the closure of several media outlets in the past year. Pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily folded last June after its founder and several staff members were charged under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Stand News, an online media outlet with a pro-democracy slant, ceased operations in December last year after its top editors were charged under the colonial-era sedition legislation. Citizens News announced its closure several days later in January, citing a “deteriorating media environment.”

“Diversity is a key component in press freedom,” said Yeung, who also added that there was a “strange phenomenon” in society where even with criticism towards the same subject, it would be “more troublesome” for outlets labelled as “so-called pro-democracy.”

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.