Factors that handicap a smooth operation of the Press Council
1. Lenient punishment and emphasize on negotiation
Condemnation is the usual punishment adopted by HKPC. After condemned by HKPC, the newspapers may respond by publishing an apology notice, whose size sometimes may be as small as a stamp. The readers may not notice it, thus not affecting the newspapers’ credibility. When the punishment is not vigilant, this in turn encourages the newspapers to continue their unethical behavior or else the incidents are left unsettled again.
In 2002, Eastweek Magazine published the nude photo of an actress being abused. Though HKPC issued condemnation immediately after the magazines published, the magazine organization still ignored it. Due to the demonstration held by the artists and the intervention of the government, the issues finally resulted in the resignation of three managers of Eastweek, the apology by the Chairman Yeung Sau-shing and cessation of the operation of Eastweek. Without the support from other parties, the incident may be left unsettled again. HKPC’s objectives will be difficult to be attained if it persists in adopting the lenient punishment.
In 2006, Easy Finder posted a candid photo of a famous singer Gillian Chung Yan-tung changing clothes at the backstage of the concert. HKPC expressed severe condemnation to Easy Finder’s behavior and the method of collecting information. It asked for Easy Finder’s response twice, but there was no reply till the deadline.
Why can’t be solved?
One of the reasons why HKPC always emphasizes on negotiation and the punishment is too lenient is because HKPC is a self- regulatory organization. Without legitimate power, HKPC does not have enough power or right to implement monetary punishment.
In order to protect the freedom of press, HKPC can not be given legal power to make it more effective. If HKPC is a government legal organization, it may become a tool for the government to intervene in freedom of...