The Hong Kong High Court has dismissed a libel suit filed by the chairman of Hong Kong’s second-largest broadband internet service provider against a local business newspaper.
Ricky Wong, chairman of City Telecom (HK) Ltd., had sued the Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal and its editor Yuen Yiu Ching over a Sept. 9, 2010 article about Wong’s plans to seek a broadcast license. In both the lead paragraph and headline of that article, Wong was quoted calling programs on existing Hong Kong television station Television Broadcasts Ltd. “shallow.”
Wong claimed that, in his interview with the Economic Journal, he had used the Chinese expression meaning “easy-to-understand” instead of the one meaning “shallow.” By quoting him saying the latter, he said, the newspaper had defamed him by depicting him as arrogant and disparaging towards a potential business competitor.
But Justice Andrew Chung On-tak ruled that any defamatory impact of the headline and lead paragraph was neutralized by the article itself, in which Wong was quoted expressing his belief that broadcasters could be successful with more educational programming.
An “ordinary reader” of the article “would find that it imputes that the plaintiff opined that he would be able to profitably exploit a market sector hitherto unexploited by the plaintiff’s business competitors,” the judge wrote. “In other words, it bears no defamatory imputation of and concerning the plaintiff.”
Barrister Benjamin Yu Yuk-hoi, instructed by DLA Piper, represented Wong. Jason Pow acted for the Economic Journal, with local firm Y. T. Chan & Co. instructing.
Wong told the South China Morning Post that he was considering an appeal.
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