Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Hong Kong Media Law

Hong Kong Media Law: A Guide for Journalists and Media Professionals

Doreen Weisenhaus
Jill Cottrell
Yan Mei Ning
Series: Law Series
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 408
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Hong Kong Media Law
    Book Description:

    Hong Kong Media Law is an authoritative guide to the laws most important to reporters, editors, news executives and other professionals working for the print, online and broadcast media - and the lawyers who advise them. Topics include defamation, court reporting, privacy, access to information, copyright, newsgathering and reporting restrictions and more. The book also examines legal hurdles Hong Kong and international journalists face while reporting on the mainland of the People's Republic of China. Also featured are chapter FAQs and checklists, a glossary of legal terms, a research guide and key legislation texts.

    eISBN: 978-988-8052-29-5
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Michael Hartmann

    Hong Kong has always prided itself on having a fearless, energetic and diverse media industry. Some say its newspapers are too often sensationalist. Perhaps some are. Competition for the reader’s dollar is fierce. But its newspapers and journals can be erudite too. And all of them, always, are searching. The fact that this is so does not simply reflect Hong Kong’s own vibrancy. In its curiosity and endeavour, our media industry exercises a function far more profound. It ensures our survival — and our progress.

    I say that because without freedom of speech, there can be no shared freedom of thought....

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Doreen Weisenhaus
  5. The Author and Contributors
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Key Legal Milestones for Press Freedom and Media Developments in Hong Kong
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  7. Table of Cases
    (pp. xxi-xxiv)
  8. Table of Legislation
    (pp. xxv-xxxvi)
  9. 1 Overview
    (pp. 1-8)
    Doreen Weisenhaus

    An anti-corruption agency raids seven newsrooms. The government considers far-reaching national security legislation with serious implications for journalists. Covert surveillance and other privacy laws targeting paparazzi and the media are proposed. A broadcaster is admonished for on-air comments. An editor is jailed for contempt of court.

    These events and others in Hong Kong since the 1997 return of the former British colony to Chinese sovereignty demonstrate the volatility of media law developments in what is now a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The legal landscape is intricate and ever-changing.

    In Hong Kong, as in...

  10. 2 The Legal System
    (pp. 9-20)
    Doreen Weisenhaus

    1. What is “the rule of law” and “separation of powers”? (See sections 2 and 3.1)

    2. What is meant by “common law”? (See section 3.2)

    3. How do laws get changed? (See section 3)

    4. How are courts structured and what kinds of cases do different courts handle? (See section 4.3)

    5. How is a jury trial different from a judge trial? (See section 4.2)

    6. What is the relationship between the laws of Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China? (See section 3.1.1)

    Before journalists can learn about media law, they need to know something about the...

  11. 3 Defamation
    (pp. 21-60)
    Jill Cottrell

    1. Are the media liable only if they intended to defame someone? (See sections 7.1 and 13)

    2. Are the media liable even if they innocently failed to realize that what they said might be read in a defamatory way? (See section 2.2.2)

    3. Is the press liable for printing what others have authored, such as letters to the editor? (See section 12.4)

    4. Words may have different meanings to different people at different times; how can we know how a court will react to them? (See sections 2.2 and 2.3.3)

    5. Suppose that most people in Hong Kong would...

  12. 4 Court Reporting and Contempt of Court
    (pp. 61-86)
    Doreen Weisenhaus

    1. Do courts have to be open to the public? When are they allowed to close proceedings? (See section 2)

    2. What are the reporting restrictions for journalists covering courts or other legal proceedings? What sanctions do they or their news organizations face if these restrictions are violated? (See sections 3–6)

    3. Are journalists allowed to talk to jurors, even after a trial is over? (See section 3.4)

    4. What is contempt of court? How is it triggered? (See section 3)

    5. Who can be held liable for contempt? Just the reporter? The editor? The publisher? (See section 3.3)...

  13. 5 Access to Information
    (pp. 87-102)
    Doreen Weisenhaus

    1. What is Hong Kong’s “Code on Access to Information” and what government information is available under it? (See section 3)

    2. If the government refuses to release accessible information, what remedies do journalists have? (See section 3.3)

    3. How does this administrative Code on Access to Information differ from Freedom of Information laws in other jurisdictions? (See sections 2 and 6)

    4. What other laws or regulations require release of public information? (See section 5)

    5. Does Hong Kong require open meetings and public access for its governmental agencies and advisory bodies? (See sections 4–5)

    The Hong Kong...

  14. 6 Privacy
    (pp. 103-126)
    Doreen Weisenhaus

    1. What is the definition of “privacy”? What laws regulate it? (See sections 2–5)

    2. Is there a “right to privacy” in Hong Kong? (See sections 1–3)

    3. Do celebrities have more, less or the same protection for privacy rights than average citizens? (See sections 2 and 5)

    4. Are there special rules governing “paparazzi,” photographers who specialize in photographs of celebrities? Do the media face any liability for using hidden cameras or microphones? (See sections 4–5)

    5. Can a journalist or photographer be sued over privacy intrusion? (See section 5)

    6. What kinds of privacy complaints...

  15. 7 Official Secrets and Sedition
    (pp. 127-144)
    Doreen Weisenhaus

    1. What is an “official secret”? (See section 2)

    2. If journalists publish “official secrets” or other confidential government information, what possible sanctions do they face? (See section 2)

    3. Can journalists invoke a public interest defence or other defences for receiving or publishing “official secrets”? (See sections 2–3)

    4. How might the law on official secrets change if and when Article 23 of the Basic Law is implemented? (See sections 3–3.1)

    5. How would other laws mandated by Article 23 — on sedition, subversion, secession, and treason — affect journalists? What are Hong Kong’s current laws on sedition? (See...

  16. 8 Other Restrictions on Newsgathering and Reporting
    (pp. 145-162)
    Yan Mei Ning

    1. Do journalists have any special rights of access to places and events? (See section 2)

    2. Do reporters need a press card? (See section 2.2)

    3. Can the police prevent journalists from taking pictures in a street? (See section 2.2)

    4. What obligations do journalists have when police establish press-only areas at public demonstrations? (See section 2.2)

    5. Would journalists face any criminal liability if, in the course of reporting, they lie to enter a private home or to take another’s belongings without permission? Can acting under a supervisor’s order be a lawful excuse? (See section 2.1, 2.5)


  17. 9 Reporting on the Mainland
    (pp. 163-186)
    Doreen Weisenhaus

    1. What laws and regulations apply to Hong Kong and international media when reporters cover news stories on the mainland?

    2. Do Hong Kong journalists have any special privileges or restrictions as a result of Hong Kong’s status as a Special Administrative Region of the PRC? (See sections 4 and 5)

    3. Do Hong Kong journalists travelling to the mainland to report news require any special visa or permit? (See sections 4.1–4.2)

    4. What should reporters do if they are detained? (See section 6)

    5. Do Hong Kong journalists face potential civil actions from private citizens they report on?...

  18. 10 Copyright
    (pp. 187-206)
    Doreen Weisenhaus

    1. What is copyright and how does it affect journalists? (See section 1)

    2. What kinds of works are protected and for how long? To be protected, do works need to be registered? (See sections 1.2 and 2)

    3. What constitutes infringement? (See section 5)

    4. Can ideas, facts or news be copyrighted? (See section 1.2)

    5. Can a journalist refer to a copyrighted work in news reporting, criticism or review? What is fair dealing? (See section 6)

    6. What rights do journalists, both media employees and freelancers, have in protecting their own work? (See sections 3, 7 and 11)...

  19. 11 Print and Online Regulation and Self-Regulation
    (pp. 207-228)
    Yan Mei Ning

    1. Do I need a licence to start a newspaper? How about an online newspaper? (See sections 2 and 6)

    2. If something published in a newspaper leads to prosecution, who can be held liable? (See section 2)

    3. Can a newspaper publish a photograph of a nude person? Does it lessen its liability by obscuring a person’s private parts? (See section 3.5)

    4. Which government departments handle reader complaints — and what kinds of complaints — against newspapers? What penalties do newspapers face? (See sections 3.1–3.4)

    5. What is meant by self-regulation? How does it differ from statutory regulation? (See...

  20. 12 Broadcast Media Regulation
    (pp. 229-254)
    Yan Mei Ning

    1. What are the major reasons for licensing broadcasting services? Why are TV and radio stations subject to more rules than the print media? (See sections 1 and 4)

    2. How many and what types of licences are available? (See section 4)

    3. What are the consequences for violating the rules? (See sections 1 and 4)

    4. What programming content can be regulated? Given the huge volume of broadcasting content these days, how is it monitored? (See section 8)

    5. What is meant by convergence and what impact does that trend have on regulation? In view of convergence, should there...

  21. Appendix A: Excerpts of Key Statutes and Regulations
    (pp. 255-324)
  22. Appendix B: Searching for Public Records of Courts
    (pp. 325-336)
    Chan Pui-king and Vivian Kwok
  23. Appendix C: Judicial Practice Directions: Hearings in Chambers in Civil Proceedings
    (pp. 337-342)
  24. Appendix D: The Code on Access to Information
    (pp. 343-348)
  25. References
    (pp. 349-354)
  26. Glossary of Legal Terms
    (pp. 355-360)
  27. Index
    (pp. 361-372)