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Hong Kong court rules local radio laws unconstitutional

[JURIST] A Hong Kong court ruled Tuesday that the Chinese special administrative region's Telecommunications Ordinance [text] was unconstitutional because it violates the freedom of expression guaranteed by Hong Kong's Basic Law and Bill of Rights [texts] by giving the government too much authority in deciding who will receive broadcasting licenses. The ruling involved local station Citizens' Radio [media website], which faced charges that their broadcasts are illegally conducted, and comes amid an ongoing battle [CSM report] between Chinese officials and local radio stations who argue against current laws, which give the territory chief executive complete discretion over issuance of licenses. The court on Tuesday agreed that city leaders have "unfettered and unchecked" control over radio broadcasts. The court suspended final judgment on the case until February, pending an appeal by the government.

China has received criticism recently for its actions and laws regarding media coverage. In August, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] accused China of increasing its control over human rights activists [press release] and other political dissidents ahead of the Beijing 2008 Olympics [official website]. HRW said that leaders in the Communist Party of China, fearing potential embarrassment brought on by activists highlighting political and social problems, have also attempted to silence independent media coverage. Reuters has more. The Standard has local coverage.

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