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Codes of Practice

The Authority regularly reviews its Codes of Practice and modifies and repeals those that are considered outdated. New provisions, such as allowing the broadcast of in-programme promotions on domestic free and pay television programme services in the form of superimposed text, subject to special conditions to safeguard viewing interest, were also introduced to offer the licensees more flexibility in promoting their programmes. During the year, the Authority approved the following amendments to the Codes.

Removal of Restrictions on Starting Times and Under-runs on Television

The provision was introduced in 1985 to ensure that when a television programme under-runs, the programme that follows should not be allowed to start broadcast earlier than its advertised schedule, and the gap to be occupied by suitable fill-in material. With the proliferation of broadcasting channels and increase in programming hours, the then requirement appeared too restrictive and the insertion of fill-in materials might not be readily appreciated by the viewers. As licensees were already required to take reasonable steps to inform viewers when programmes were not shown in accordance with published schedules under the existing Generic Code of Practice on Programme Standards, the removal of the provision would provide the licensees with more flexibility in scheduling of programmes.

Revisions to Definitions of "Current Affairs Programmes" and "Documentary Programmes"

The definition of "current affairs programmes" was revised in order to spell out clearly that these programmes focus on social, economic or political issues relevant to the community, and with detailed analysis or discussion of news stories that have occurred recently or are ongoing at the time of broadcast.

The definition of "documentary programmes" was also revised to exclude current affairs programmes and travelogues. The clarification was necessary to reflect the changing nature of programme content and to provide clearer guidance to domestic free television programme service licensees to comply with the relevant licence conditions relating to positive programme requirements23.

New Provision on In-Programme Promotions and Consequential Amendments to Provisions on Title Sponsorship

Amendments were made to the Generic Code of Practice on Television Programme and Advertising Standards to allow programmes to carry promotions for other programmes in the form of superimposed text subject to conditions. References to a sponsor's name which formed an integral part of the title of the programme being promoted would be permitted. The relaxation aims to provide a more business friendly environment for the broadcasting industry by allowing them more flexibility in promoting their programmes, providing more information and programme choice to viewers.


The "positive programmes" ATV and TVB required to broadcast are news, current affairs programmes, documentary, art and culture programmes, children's programmes and programmes for senior citizens and young persons.