Thousands march to 'defend Hong Kong's core values'
Row over TV license escalates into anger with authorities
Picture: South China Morning Post
Tens of thousands of protesters in black T-shirts marched to the government headquarters in Admiralty yesterday claiming that the decision to deny Hong Kong Television Networks (HKTV) a free-to-air TV licence was a threat to the city's core values.
HKTV chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay, who did not take part in the rally, said the issue was no longer about giving viewers more choice but whether the authorities respected people's needs and whether Hong Kong was still governed by the rule of law.
About 100 HKTV staff formed a "justice alliance" and said they would camp at the Tamar site until an explanation was given to the company, which lost out last week when the government granted only two licences, to i-Cable's Fantastic TV and PCCW's Hong Kong Television Entertainment. The staff protesters will show HKTV shows on large projectors every night at 8pm.
Police said 36,000 people joined the rally. HKTV suggested 80,000 may have taken part, but this was only an estimate as there had not been an official count.
The march was organised via a Facebook page that has attracted nearly 500,000 "likes".
Some protesters called on the government and Executive Council to explain the rationale behind the issuing of licences as documents leaked to the media revealed there were no reasons not to issue three. When the government decided to open the TV market in 1998 it said there would be no cap on licence numbers.
Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching compared the rally with last year's movement against plans for a national education curriculum, which the government eventually shelved.
HKTV staff and artistes made tearful speeches asking why their efforts to raise the TV industry to a new level were denied without reasons. Members of the public accused the government of crushing the city's core values.
"Under the Lion Rock, we believe if we endeavour, we succeed. But the government has made it a myth now," said Jean Tsang, a housewife in her 50s.
Source: South China Morning Post
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