Unions launch legal challenge to 'Headliner' ruling - RTHK
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Unions launch legal challenge to 'Headliner' ruling

2020-08-19 HKT 22:40
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  • At one point in the February 14 episode of Headliner the presenter emerged from a rubbish bin while dressed as a policeman. File image: RTHK
    At one point in the February 14 episode of Headliner the presenter emerged from a rubbish bin while dressed as a policeman. File image: RTHK
The Hong Kong Journalists Association and RTHK's Programme Staff Union have applied for a judicial review of a recent ruling by the Communications Authority that led the public broadcaster to take its popular satirical TV show Headliner off air.

The RTHK union and the journalists' group say in their judicial review application that the authority’s ruling violated provisions in the Basic Law, the Bill of Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In a filing to the High Court, they say the provisions protect freedom of speech, of the press and of publication, including the freedom to criticise governmental institutions and the conduct of public officials.

They also say the authority made a mistake by classifying Headliner as a personal views programme without considering its satirical nature, and had therefore applied the wrong set of standards in reaching its decision.

In May, the authority issued the public broadcaster with a warning over an episode of the show on February 14 which had poked fun at the city's police force.

Among other things, it joked that officers had an abundance of protective gear to ward off the coronavirus, at a time when medical staff were complaining they were running short.

The authority said the programme had "denigrated" and "insulted" the police and the jokes made were not only "factually inaccurate", but also amounted to a "gratuitous attack" on all officers.

Within hours of the ruling, RTHK management apologised for any offence caused to the police and announced they were suspending production of Headliner. The final episode was broadcast on June 19.