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The 21st Consumer Rights Reporting Awards Steadfast Monitoring and Reporting by the Media Amidst the Pandemic

  • 2021.08.31

The Consumer Rights Reporting Awards (CRRA), jointly organised by the Consumer Council, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (HKPPA) since 2001, entered its 21st year in 2021. This year, the CRRA received a total of 203 entries from 26 media organisations and higher education institutions.

At the CRRA Presentation Ceremony today, a total of 32 awards in 7 categories were presented, including 7 Gold Awards, 8 Silver Awards, 6 Bronze Awards, 7 Merit Awards, 3 “Sustainable Consumption Reporting Awards” and 1 “Grand Award”. The ceremony was officiated by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, The Honourable Edward Yau Tang-wah, GBS, JP, and the Council Chairman, Mr. Paul Lam Ting-kwok, SBS, SC, JP.                                        

Since its outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought major upheavals to the public’s livelihood and the economy, while citizen’s lifestyles and consumption patterns have also seen drastic changes. Naturally, the entries this year reflected much of the epidemic-related public sentiment, with a number of entries covering the supply and quality of anti-epidemic products, such as the panic-buying of daily necessities in the early stages of the pandemic; while some news features revealed the doubtful efficacy of novel anti-epidemic products, such as wearable negative ion air purifiers and disinfectant lanyards. In addition, an entry probed into the hygiene risks of cash transactions at wet markets and revealed the difficulties faced by traders when trying to convert to digital payment systems, thus recommending the Government to intervene by resolving transaction charges and strengthening public education. Other reports involved various topics to do with citizens’ livelihood, including the living conditions inside different types of subdivided flats, the actual situation of plastic bottle recycling in housing estates, etc.

To further encourage the media to drive and support consumer news reports, the “Grand Award”, which was newly introduced last year to celebrate CRRA’s 20th anniversary, has now become a permanent award. The adjudication panel decided that the Grand Award this year would go to the report “Tracker Reveals Futile Recycling Effort   9 Major Housing Estates Send Recycled Plastic Bottles Straight to Landfills” in the “Audio-visual Category — Short Clips”. The HK01 Reporting Crew (Joe Leung Cho-yiu, Chan Yun-nam, Alger Siu Kwan-hang, Tam Yiu-on, Yeung Wing-fei, Wong Hoi-to, Lam Chung-wah) responsible for the winning entry received a trophy and cash prize of HK$10,000.

In his welcome speech, the Council Chairman Mr. Paul Lam Ting-kwok, SC said, “Last year, the pandemic has dealt various blows to the industry. Despite this, the media has remained fearless and stalwart in the face of different challenges, and helped the public tide over tough times by reporting on pandemic-related news both local and worldwide, allowing citizens to stay informed on the latest situation. The Council is deeply grateful for the media’s tenacious coverage of consumer-related issues and information disseminated by the Council, upholding their duties all while juggling the difficulties of combating the pandemic. The Council is also thankful for the media’s enthusiastic participation in the CRRA and their effort in protecting consumer rights.”


Text Category

The text category, which comprises 2 main streams – “News/Feature/Commentary” and “Investigative Reporting” – received 55 and 32 entries respectively.

The Gold Award winning reporter of the "News/Features/Comments” stream recorded the personal experience staying at rented subdivided flats in industrial buildings, tenement houses and in serviced apartment style. The winning report revealed the suffocating lifestyle as a tenant of a subdivided flat, analysing various aspects such as the layout plan, facilities, quality of life, emotional well-being, etc. The report also exposed the extremely high safety risks faced by the tenants, as well as other struggles, such as the rent being increased at the owner’s whim, or the overcharging of miscellaneous expenses. As some of the companies or owners were involved in unlicensed operation or unauthorised letting of property, the report recommended the Government to strengthen supervision or consider amending the regulations, so as to improve the quality of life in subdivided flats.

The Gold Award in the “Investigative” stream went to the “Takeaway Hazards” report series. The reporter trialed as a delivery person for a food delivery platform for a week, and uncovered numerous issues with the meal delivery system. Not only were food quality and hygiene hard to guarantee, there was also an increased risk of deliverers spreading the virus. The reporter also pointed out that in the event of a food safety incident, the food delivery platform and restaurant tended to play the blame game. The authorities should establish legislation as soon as possible to regulate the shifting of responsibility between the food delivery platforms and restaurants, in a bid to safeguard consumer rights.


Audio and Audio-visual Categories

The Gold Award winning report of the “Audio Category” explored the underlying consumer traps of online shopping and “livestream e-commerce”, such as non-delivery or the goods not matching the description. Consumers were advised to purchase from reputable websites, and to pay heed to transaction terms and conditions as well as customer service quality before purchase, as it could determine the likelihood of seeking redress in case of disputes.

The reporter of the “Audio-visual Category — Short Clips” Gold Award winning entry explored the route of plastic recycling by placing GPS trackers inside plastic bottles before recycling. The report found that many housing estates were suspected of sending the collected plastic to the landfills or refuse transfer stations, exposing the fact that recycling merchants were unwilling to collect plastic due to its low economic value. As the housing estates or property management companies were unwilling to divulge the name of the downstream recycling merchant, residents lacked the means or capacity to monitor the recycling merchants. This entry was simultaneously awarded the “Sustainable Consumption Reporting Award — Audio-visual Category” and the “Grand Award”.

The entry receiving the Gold Award for long clips tested the efficacy of disinfectant lanyards. The bactericidal efficacy of the products was found to be dubious, while some product descriptions were misleading, prompting consumers to think twice before purchasing.


Press Photo Category

The winning entry of the “Press Photo Category”, entitled “Citizens Pull Out All Stops to Combat the Pandemic”, documented the various anti-epidemic tactics employed by citizens during the shortage of face mask supply in Hong Kong. Such sights included a large DIY face shield made from a water bottle to prevent the spread of virus through respiratory droplets.


Campus Category

The Gold Award of the “Campus Category” went to the entry “Self-sustaining Hong Kong People Set Up Own Factories to Manufacture Face Masks”, which explored how factory owners set up local face mask production lines to tackle the face mask shortage in Hong Kong during a time when demand far outstripped supply. Some members of the public also invented reusable face masks to cope with daily usage. The report reminded citizens to purchase face masks from reputable retail stores.


Sustainable Consumption Reporting Awards

The winning entry for the “Sustainable Consumption Reporting Award” in the “Text Category” tested and found microplastics in a number of branded bottled water. Despite the increased risks of arteriosclerosis and cancer from long-term ingestion of microplastics, food safety monitoring authorities around the world have yet to establish relevant food safety standards.

The “Sustainable Consumption Reporting Award” in the “Campus Category” was awarded to “Veganism on the Rise in Hong Kong”. The entry covered the increasing trend of citizens turning to veganism as a result of promotions and recommendations on social media, as well as the rampant African swine fever. Traders have also been riding on the trend and introduced various foods such as plant-based meat substitutes, offering more vegan options for the public.

The CRRA is jointly organised by the Consumer Council, the HKJA and the HKPPA with the aim to recognise the excellence in reporting issues relating to consumer rights and it has become a renowned annual award for the industry. The adjudication panel comprises 15 representatives from professional organisations and academics in journalism, in addition to the Council Chairman and Vice-Chairman. 


Image Captions:

  1. Guest-of-Honour, The Honourable Edward Yau Tang-wah, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, presents opening remarks.
  2. Mr. Paul Lam Ting-kwok, Chairman of the Consumer Council, welcomes the guests.
  3. Guests and awardees of the 21st CRRA.
  4. The “Grand Award” goes to the entry “Tracker Reveals Futile Recycling Effort   9 Housing Estates Send Recycled Plastic Bottles Straight to Landfills” from the “Audio-visual Category — Short Clips”. The HK01 Reporting Crew receives the award from The Honourable Edward Yau Tang-wah and Mr. Paul Lam Ting-kwok.
  5. Mr. Kyrus Siu King-wai, Chairman of the Publicity & Community Relations Committee; Professor Peter Kwan Wai, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Chu Hai College of Higher Education; and Mr. Ho Ka-tat, Chairman of HKPPA presents Awards of the “Campus Category”.
  6. The Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards of the “Press Photo Category” are awarded to TOPick, Ming Pao and Sing Tao Daily respectively.
  7. Ms. Gilly Wong Fung-han, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council, announced the results of the “Audio Category”.
  8. The Gold Award of the Audio-visual Category (Long Clips) goes to the report “Purifying Air? 1m-radius Safety Bubble? A Field Test of Disinfectant Lanyards” by i-Cable News. Ms. May Chan Suk-mei, Special Advisor to the Chairman of Commercial Radio Hong Kong; Ms. Gilly Wong Fung-han, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council; and Mr. Ronson Chan, Chairperson of the HKJA, present the award.
  9. The Gold Award of the Text Category (News/Feature/Commentary) is awarded to the “Subdivided Flat” feature by Wen Wei Po.
  10. The awardees of the Text Category (Investigative) with the Guest of Honour, The Honourable Edward Yau Tang-wah, and Mr. Paul Lam Ting-kwok.