25 October 2016
Hongkongers seem to show a lot more interest in chasing frost (right) on Tai Mo Shan than issues such as license renewal of a broadcast outlet (left). Photo: Reuters
Hongkongers seem to show a lot more interest in chasing frost (right) on Tai Mo Shan than issues such as license renewal of a broadcast outlet (left). Photo: Reuters

Why we must pay more attention to Commercial Radio license issue

It appears that an important piece of news has slipped completely under the public radar recently. I am referring to the prolonged discussion of the Executive Council (Exco) over the application from Commercial Radio (CR) for license renewal.

According to news reports, the broadcasting license of CR is due to expire in August this year, but its application for renewal is still under scrutiny by the Exco. As the administration seems to be taking an unusually long time to examine CR’s application, some observers have said they believe a “man” could be standing in the way. I am sure everybody can guess who that “man” is.

What really boggles the mind here is, why is the CR keeping such a low-profile in face of the critical issue of license renewal?

It appears to me that CR is deliberately keeping its head down to avoid public attention to its case and upsetting the authorities. In fact, the CR case is a typical example of the struggles faced by media outlets in Hong Kong today in face of mounting political interference and deteriorating social environment.

If you were the head of the CR, who would you look to for support? The pan-democrats? Absolutely not, because these people are just a bunch of totally unreliable hypocrites who would only fish in troubled waters but would never dare to stand up and be counted, let alone care about the survival of a radio network.

That should be evident from the group’s flip-flopping and cold shoulder after CR had come under fire for airing leaked audio recordings from a meeting of the Hong Kong University Council.

So would our general public rally to the support of the CR if it raised the issue and openly called on the government to expedite the approval process of its license renewal application?

Well they might, but I’m not hopeful about that, because it seems to me that after the Occupy Movement had come to nothing, there are signs that the majority of the public and social activists have run out of steam and are feeling disoriented, resulting in a temporary but widespread indifference to our social issues.

Much to my dismay, people seemed to be a lot more interested in the Taiwan presidential election, the refugee crisis in Europe, and even the frozen bush branches at the top of Tai Mo Shan and Kowloon Peak over the weekend, than issues such as the whereabouts of bookseller Lee Bo and how he was abducted by “powerful agencies”, and the token gesture of the pan-democrats on the so-called Cyber Article 23.

Given this, it won’t be surprising if the CR license saga also fails to arouse strong feelings.

Where have all the passion and valor our citizens demonstrated during the Occupy Movement gone?

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 26.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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