The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) says in a statement that is “deeply concerned that the right to receive information is being restricted in Macau, negatively affecting social diversity, after a dispute over TV transmission rights.”
The Paris-based federation, which says that it represents 600,000 journalists worldwide, expressed the concern in a statement issued on Sunday.
The statement said that “under tremendous pressure from the public,” Macau Cable TV (MCTV) signed a deal with the city’s communal antenna service providers early this month, allowing the latter to relay a number of free-to-air TV channels on its behalf.
The deal came after a controversial court ruling in June that had confirmed MCTV’s cable TV transmission monopoly granted by Macau’s then Portuguese administration in 1999.
However, the monopoly had never been implemented. Most local residents have received their TV signals through a number of communal antenna service providers for decades.
The statement pointed out that the MCTV deal “did not reveal the measures by which the channels were chosen.”
The statement underlined the fact that the “deleted” channels include overseas information channels such as the BBC and Japan’s NHK.
The statement cited local journalists, lawmakers and scholars as voicing “the worry that people have been deprived of their right to receive information and demanded that the companies reveal the standard by which they selected the television channels which will continue to be broadcast.”
According to the statement cited by The Macau Post Daily, subscribers to the city’s 14 communal antenna service providers have lost access to 60 TV channels until April next year, when MCTV’s monopoly finally expires.
Government officials say that the antenna companies’ subscribers can now receive 45 channels. However, some of the channels are counted twice because of their separate conventional and digital services.
The statement quoted Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On as saying that his government respected citizens’ right to watch TV and that “he would strive for local residents to have access to more channels.”
The statement said that the IFJ Asia-Pacific Office was “glad” to know that the local government “was able to increase the number of TV channels [that the general public in Macau can watch] …, but the number of channels allowed is still far below what people originally enjoyed.”
The statement added that “the right to receive diverse information is a fundamental human right.
“We believe the current monopolisation of the television transmission signal service is one of the key things depriving [Macau] people of their rights.”
The statement urged the local government “to uphold diversity of information and immediately review the market for [TV] transmission signal services in Macau in order to allow different companies to enter the market.(macaunews)