Commercial Radio agrees not to contest HKU gag order

November 06, 2015 13:20
Commercial Radio will not be contesting a temporary  injunction obtained from the High Court by the University of Hong Kong. Photo: HKEJ

Commercial Radio Hong Kong has agreed to a demand by the University of Hong Kong that the radio station refrain from broadcasting information leaked from meetings of the HKU council, Apple Daily reported Friday.

At a hearing Thursday in the High Court, Commercial Radio said it will abide by the terms of an interim injunction obtained by HKU on Friday last week prohibiting the radio station and "persons unknown" from publishing material from the confidential meetings.

HKU sought the court order after the broadcaster aired two audio recordings of speeches made by HKU council members Arthur Li Kwok-cheung and Leonie Ki Man-fung during a controversial session on Sept. 29 in which the council voted against appointing former HKU law dean Johannes Chan Man-mun as pro vice chancellor.

High Court judge Godfrey Lam Wan-ho expressed reservations about the injunction, which will be the subject of a High Court hearing Friday to decide if it should be made permanent.

Lam said the scope of the injunction is "a little unusual", as HKU is seeking a "perpetual injunction on all meetings, future, past, and present".

Commercial Radio’s lawyer Mike Lui Sai-kit said obeying the court order does not imply that the station is compromising on press freedom.

Hong Kong Journalists Association chairwoman Sham Yee-lan said she felt let down by the broadcaster's decision.

The HKJA will speak against the injunction in court Friday, together with Apple Daily and HKU alumnus Ip Kin-yuen, who is a legislator representing the education sector.

To Yiu-ming, assistant professor in the department of journalism at Hong Kong Baptist University, criticized Commercial Radio for backing down, saying it is hard not to link the station's decision to the prospects for the renewal of its license. 

Commercial Radio’s broadcasting license will expire at the end of August next year.

The usual practice is for the government to notify a broadcaster a year in advance about its decision on whether to renew a license, which is made by Hong Kong's chief executive on the advice of the Executive Council.

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