Newspaper and Article Administration Division

Functions


The Newspaper and Article Administration Division is responsible for (a) the registration of local newspapers and news agencies and the licensing of newspaper distributors under the Registration of Local Newspapers Ordinance (RLNO), Cap. 268 and (b) enforcement of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (COIAO), Cap. 390.
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(a) Registration of Local Newspapers Ordinance, Cap. 268

Publications containing news, information and commentaries that are published at intervals not exceeding six months need to be registered, according to the RLNO. Certain publications, including academic journals, almanacs, cartoons and comic strips, collections of photographic images, commercial advertisements and circulars, are exempt (please refer to the Schedule of Registration of Local Newspapers Ordinance for details).
 
(b) Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance, Cap. 390

The COIAO deals with the publication and display of obscene and indecent articles. Its spirit is to protect young people's well-being by preventing their access to indecent materials while still allowing adults freedom of information.

The COIAO has also established a judicial body, the Obscene Articles Tribunal (OAT), that adjudicates on the offensiveness of the articles voluntarily submitted to it by publishers and law enforcement agencies or referred to it by magistracies in the course of proceedings.

Under the terms of the COIAO, articles can be classified into three classes. An article is Class I if it is neither obscene nor indecent, Class II if it is indecent or Class III if it is obscene. The interpretation of 'obscenity' and 'indecency' in the COIAO include violence, depravity and repulsiveness. Indecent articles cannot be published (For the definition of "publish" under COIAO, please refer to Question 3 of the Frequently Asked Questions for COIAO) to persons under the age of 18, and they must carry a statutory warning notice. Obscene articles are banned.

OFNAA's role is to monitor the articles available on the market, submit them to the OAT for classification and refer them to the Police for investigation and prosecution where necessary. Periodic visits are paid to retail outlets to check whether they are selling/renting obscene or indecent articles. The outlets subject to such visits include bookshops, newspaper stalls, video shops and computer shops. Customs and the Police are also designated enforcement agencies under the terms of the COIAO.

In addition to surveillance inspections and enforcement actions, OFNAA also carries out a variety of public education activities every year. Please visit the "Publicity and Public Education" webpage (https://www.ofnaa.gov.hk/eng/publicity/coiao.htm) for details.

OFNAA runs an enquiry and complaint hotline: 2676 7676, email: naa@ofnaa.gov.hk.