Media Law Privacy: A study on its impact on journalists in HK

Media Law Privacy: A study on its impact on journalists in HK

Great Britain was a powerful empire back in the days. It boasted of large areas of lands she colonized and conquered – with territories ranging from the Americas to the Far East and the pacific. For so many years England has conquered these territories and left a considerable influence on their cultures, such as newspapers and the media. Two of the best examples of these territories would be Hong Kong in the Far East and Australia in the pacific.


These two countries were once the colony of the most powerful country back then the British Empire. But now as the time would have it, the two were given their independence by Britain, Australia in 1939 and Hong Kong’s turnover to the Chinese Government in 1997. Now you may ask, what is the significance of the past activities of these two countries in relation to their media laws? Let’s look on how describes the difference. First, both have considerable influences from Britain in the freedom of expression, the media for example, and the other laws that go by it. Second, the turnover to two different cultures sets the difference for their journalism and media laws. The second reason will be discussed in detail in the next few paragraphs.

When Britain handed over Hong Kong to china in 1997, the pre-colonial journalism style was different. Journalists were given full access to whatever news they can go into, in short full independence on the freedom of speech. The post colonial journalists now have a dilemma in their hands. With the pre colonial freedom that they’ve enjoyed now partly gone, its almost impossible for them to write something which may be of raging influence or may be detrimental to many authorities or the mainland politicians will call as propaganda against them.  It would then be taken to assumption that there had been evidences with regard to invasion of their privacy or political plans (Workshop).

Media Law in Hong Kong

In a survey taken from the site of Media Law as adhered to by the government, such is evident that disclosing private issues if will not be detrimental to ones health or safety or for a person’s well-being, its better to let the persons concerned or organizations know.  Given such standpoint, in this case I think the Chinese Central Party will disagree with me. Considering the fact that any leak into the private affairs of the big bosses’ there and may be in fact, be detrimental to their  health if the media will get their hands on it (“Inmedia”).

Most of the news that go against the tide of the mainland politicians will either be ignored or a big possibility will not be published at all by China News Agency, the news agency that is controlled by the Chinese Mainland communist party. The above mentioned is indeed a big difference on the media styles, laws and certain freedoms that are practiced back in the days of the British Empire controlling Hong Kong.  Certain news whether be beneficial to the communist party could either be not published for the sake of secrecy laws that are imposed by the communist party. Hence, Secrecy laws which are based from the interests of the ruling party in Mainland China.

Hong Kong media as seen from the eyes of its neighboring countries and the world reflect somewhat a negative view. Media in Hong Kong is the under the repressive arms of the Chinese mainland. The journalists in Hong Kong have to bear with the overly protective policies of the mainland. But the repression that the journalists go through in Hong Kong puts them in a somewhat feisty approach towards expressing their views and puts them in a delicate political situation. In terms of expression, the privacy laws and policies that the mainland imposes indirectly on to the journalist’s possess a different view and approach to a media that others may think is in dire need of air from an already tight squeeze from the mainland’s hands.

However, media in Hong Kong still give some respect to the big bosses in the mainland. Prior to the turnover in 1997, the central party was used to the distinctively quiet atmosphere of the media there. Now as the feisty and active reporters of Hong Kong are becoming often aggressive in bringing out the truth, in reference to Taiwan, they do still maintain a high level of respect for the state’s privacy laws in expressing views over the issue.

Media Laws in Australia

The media laws of Australia on the other hand, propose and show a different approach to how the state allows its journalist to practice their crafts. State laws passed by the House of Commons states that it allows journalists to practice under such media regulations, freedom of speech and other policies that follow governing laws. In terms of privacy, the state does allow journalists certain protocols in regard to privacy ((OLDP)).

Take for example, state provisions that allow foreign nationals to take certain control of certain percentages of media institutions.  It does in a way grant private or corporate individuals to express the freedom of speech. The freedom must be exercised according to state laws and specifically, privacy related. The state itself does value the freedom to exercise that right but it has to coincide with certain ethics just to make sure that no privacy issue will be exposed that may be detrimental to one’s or an organizations well being.

True that such freedom exercised in Australia has pointed out and brought great deal of scandals and corruptions hiding within the bureaucracy. If we look at the past, the Australian press has served their country well. Corruptions and misbehaviors from both the private sector and the government have been brought up by investigative journalists in response to needs of the people to know what is going on and their mission to bring out press freedom to a higher level of information dissemination.   As a matter of fact, this sort of freedom allows investigative reporters to practice press freedom to a much higher extent. But certain details have to be polished first before any publication gets out exposing such private issues which investigative journalists may deem necessary to let the public know.

Complications in Press

Certain hindrances may affect Australian press’ freedom. Take for example, the Trade Practices Act, which in a much broader sense is likely to be violated with the inclusion of press and cross- media ownership puts the credibility of Australian press on the line. With a lot of publications competing for sales in the Australian market. With various highly unlikely that the freedom may be jeopardize as more publications may go a bit extreme to bring out privacy related issues in the news for the sake of creating a stable share in the market (Smartt).

Moreover, the degrading factor that some laws come in a variation of issues that rise in the field of obscenity, regional censorship and the other media restraints imposed by the laws crafted by the legislating individuals.  Aside from that it had been noted that consequently, one of the most striking deprivation of Press Freedom are the extent of regulations falling on the surface of morality.  This then stresses the standpoint that there had been certain instances wherein the Media advocates believe that the skill they have acquired for the pursuance of such projects in disseminating information to the contemporary society is stringed on the desires of those who are in office (Tugendhat and Christie).


In conclusion, I believe with all these facts brought up the privacy issues of the press between Hong Kong and Australia. In my view Australian journalists enjoy a more subtle freedom in expressing their views in relation to private issues as compared to Hong Kong’s journalist who experiences a tight grip when it comes to details in press freedom. Culture differences, I also believe play a vital role in defining media privacy issues between these two countries’ journalists.  The arena of media may be not of that which entails absolute freedom as well as with the point of divulging on the creativity of the aforementioned individuals.  Thus, issues on privacy which were sought to be degrading in a form of nuisance and surveillance, is a point of fact that democracy is not well established in the society of today.


(OLDP), Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing. “Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005.” ComLaw – Federal Register of Legislative Instruments, 2005.

“Inmedia.” IDEA 2007, 2007.

Smartt, Ursula. Media Law for Journalists. Sage Publications Ltd 2006.

Tugendhat, Michael, and Iain Christie. The Law of Privacy and the Media: First Cumulative Updating Supplement. Oxford University Press, USA, 2004.

Workshop, New Media. “Hong Kong–Inmedia.” University of Hong Kong ‘s Journalism and Media Studies Centre, 2007.