Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(2)377
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB2/PL/BCS

Provisional Legislative Council Panel on Broadcasting, Culture and Sport

Minutes of Meeting held on Friday, 5 September 1997 at 10:45 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Hon MOK Ying-fan (Chairman)
Hon MA Fung-kwok (Deputy Chairman)
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
Hon Henry WU
Hon CHAN Choi-hi
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen

Members Absent :

Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting

Public Officers Attending :

    Item II

    Mrs Rita LAU
    Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture & Sport (Acting)

    Mrs Jenny WALLIS
    Deputy Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture & Sport (Culture and Sport)

    Mr Eddy CHAN
    Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing

    Item III

    Mrs Rita LAU
    Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture & Sport (Acting)

    Mr Eddy CHAN
    Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing

    Item IV

    Mrs Rita LAU
    Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture & Sport (Acting)

    Mr Eddy CHAN
    Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing

    Mr T F SO
    Chief Telecommunication Engineer (Advisory and Planning)

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :

Mr Raymond LAM
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 6

I.Confirmation of minutes of meeting and matters arising
(PLC Paper No. CB(2)99)

The minutes of the meeting held on 22 July 1997 were confirmed.

2.Members noted the information paper (PLC Paper No. CB(2)233) provided by the Administration on the enforcement of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance at the 8th Hong Kong Book Fair.

II.Briefing on the policy objectives of the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Bureau
(Paper No. CB(2)219(01))

3.At the invitation of the Chairman, the acting Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport (SBCS(Ag)) highlighted the salient points in the Administration's paper, and responded to the following concerns expressed by members.

Relationship between the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Bureau and the Municipal Councils

4.A member commented that coordination between the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Bureau (BCSB) and the Municipal Councils (MCs), especially in the areas of culture and sport, had not been satisfactory in the past and resources had not been put to optimal use. He enquired whether BCSB had any plans to strengthen its coordination with the MCs. Another member considered that the existing constitutional relationship between BCSB and MCs did not facilitate the development of culture and sport in Hong Kong. Although Hong Kong ranked second in the world in the resources put into culture and sport, there had been grievances among the sport and cultural sectors that the resources had not been fully utilised. She considered that it was time to critically examine the issue with a view to finding long term solutions to these long-standing problems. The Deputy Chairman echoed the member's view and urged the Administration to review its overall policy objectives on culture and sport, especially in resource allocation, management of facilities, and the extent of participation by the public and local arts groups.

5.SBCS (Ag) noted members' views and explained that while BCSB was responsible for policy matters on culture and sport and SBCS would answer questions relating to the work of MCs at Provisional Legislative Council (PLC) meetings, BCSB did not have authority over the work of the MCs and their executive departments, the Urban Services Department and the Regional Services Department. She advised that the MCs were autonomous bodies empowered by legislation to manage their cultural and sports facilities and organize their own programmes. Funding for the MCs and their work were not provided through BCSB and their utilization of resources was subject to a separate control mechanism. She explained that any change in the constitutional relationship between BCSB and MCs would necessitate a change in the constitutional structure and the law, and this should be a matter for consideration of the Constitutional Affairs Bureau rather than BCSB. Noting that there would be a motion debate on "Review of District Administration" at the PLC meeting on 10 September 1997, she suggested that members might wish to take the opportunity to express their views on that occasion. A member commented that such a review would probably take some time. He considered that the Administration should now seriously consider reviewing the existing statutory and constitutional framework governing the operation of the municipal councils and the central government in the provision of arts and cultural services. In this connection, the Chairman advised that the subject could be discussed at a future meeting of the Panel.

Obscene Articles Tribunal

6.A member commented that it would be necessary to increase transparency of the Obscene Articles Tribunal (OAT) proceedings so that the public could know about the classification criteria. She suggested that consideration should be given to conducting OAT hearings in public. In response, SBCS (Ag) advised that there would be practical difficulties in holding OAT hearings in public, as some articles presented might be classified as obscene in which case they would be prohibited from public display or publication. Conducting OAT hearings in public might also be counter-productive, as OAT was often subject to a very tight schedule due to the large number of articles submitted to it for classification or determination and the legal requirement that an interim classification of an article should be made within five days under the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (COIAO).

7.On enhancing transparency of the classification standards adopted by OAT, SBCS (Ag) informed the meeting that members of the public could have access to the repository containing articles classified by OAT. Where an article was classified as obscene or indecent, the OAT would identify the offending part or parts of the article concerned. To ensure that the OAT could reflect the community standard, the number of OAT adjudicators had been increased.

8.SBCS (Ag) also clarified that the role of the OAT was only to determine the classification of the submitted articles. It was for the court to determine whether a person had committed an offence under COIAO.

9.Another member shared with Panel members his previous experience as an OAT adjudicator. He said that due to the time constraint and the large number of articles submitted for classification, there would be practical difficulties with holding OAT hearings in public. He considered it more practical for hearings on appeals to be held in public.

10. SBCS (Ag) noted members' concern and undertook to relay members' views to the Judiciary Administrator for consideration.Adm
Five-year plans of Hong Kong Arts Development Council and Hong Kong Sports Development Board

11.At a member's request, SBCS (Ag) undertook to provide progress reports on the respective five-year plans of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and Hong Kong Sports Development Board.Adm

III.Progress on review of broadcasting policy in 1998

12.SBCS (Ag) made a verbal report on the progress on the review of the television environment in 1998. She advised that given the rapid technological development in the broadcasting industry, a policy review would be undertaken in 1998 to enhance competition and availability of choices to the community. Preparatory work for the review had commenced and interested parties had been invited in late April 1997 to give their views on the scope of review. It was envisaged that the scope would be finalized by the end of 1997, and a consultative document would be issued for public comments in the first quarter of 1998.

13.A member expressed concern over the accessibility of the Cable Television (Cable TV) network to households in different areas of Hong Kong and enquired whether the issue would be included in the 1998 review. She considered it important that the Cable TV network licensee should ensure delivery of its service to all households covered by the licence.

14.SBCS (Ag) advised that the network coverage of Cable TV had already exceeded the requirements stipulated in its licence. The situation was being monitored by the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, and failure on the part of Cable TV in complying with its licence requirements could result in forfeiture of the bonded sum set out in a performance bond. To her knowledge, Cable TV had encountered difficulties in securing the agreement of management companies of some estates for access to the households concerned. While Cable TV had the right to seek arbitration by the Office of the Telecommunications Authority in the process, it had only made such requests on two occasions. Cable TV had also experienced some technical problems in the interconnection between its network and the master antenna of buildings. There were occasions where an additional master antenna had to be installed in a building to accommodate the Cable TV network. SBCS (Ag) considered that from the business point of view, Cable TV would seek to meet the needs of its prospective customers, and would endeavour to solve the problems by negotiation rather than arbitration.

15.Members noted that the licence of Cable TV would be due for a mid-term review in 1999.

IV.Implication of section 82 of the Copyright Ordinance on Satellite Master Antenna Television broadcast
(Paper No. CB(2)219(02))

16.At the invitation of the Chairman, SBCS(Ag) briefed members on the Administration's paper. Members noted that so far only two satellite broadcasters, namely CNBC and CNNI, had given notice under Section 82 of the Copyright Ordinance, to revoke the implied licence for free re-transmission of their programmes.

17.Responding to a member on the impact of such notices on existing viewers, SBCS (Ag) advised that there were15 SMATV licensees re-transmitting CNBC programmes to 7 000 households and 175 SMATV licensees re-transmitting CNNI programmes to some 40 000 households. As for STAR TV programmes which were uplinked by Hutchvision Hong Kong Limited under its Satellite Television Uplink and Downlink Licence to some 500 000 households in Hong Kong, an arrangement had been put in place in the licence to enable the continuation of free re-transmission of the STAR TV programmes by Satellite Master Antenna Television (SMATV) operators. This accounted for 96% of the households watching satellite television programmes in Hong Kong. As Cable TV also broadcast CNNI programmes, the impact on existing viewers was rather small.

18.SBCS (Ag) informed members that the Administration had originally proposed deferring the effective date of section 82 of the Copyright Ordinance until it had reviewed the related policies. However, the proposal was eventually not supported by the former Legislative Council and section 82 had been brought into effect from 27 June 1997. Nevertheless, the requirement for giving six months' advance notice for revoking an implied licence would still allow sufficient time for SMATV licensees to work out alternative arrangements with the satellite broadcasters concerned. A member suggested that the Administration might consider providing assistance to viewers who experienced difficulties with the alternative arrangement on expiry of the six-month notice period.

19.Members noted that the role of SMATV licensees would be one of the issues to be examined in the broadcasting policy review in 1998.

V.Date of next meeting and items for discussion
(Paper No. CB(2)219(03))

20.Members agreed that the next meeting would be held on Friday, 3 October 1997 at 10:45 am to discuss the following -

  1. control and regulation of the use of explosives by the film industry; and

  2. control and regulation of obscene and indecent materials transmitted through the Internet.

21.Members also discussed the priority of other suggested items for future meetings. The following discussion items, in order of priority, were agreed -

  1. Licensing of Karaoke establishments

    The Panel would consider, at a future meeting, whether a joint meeting should be held with the Panel on Security to discuss the new licensing system for karaoke establishments currently under deliberation by the Security Bureau and the MCs.

  2. Briefings by the Provisional Municipal Councils and Hong Kong Arts Development Council on their work to the Panel

    The Deputy Chairman suggested that the Hong Kong Sports Development Board should be included under this item.

  3. Review of the relationship between BCSB and the MCs

    The Panel would consider, after the motion debate on "Review of District Administration" at the PLC meeting on 10 September 1997, whether a joint meeting should be held with the Panel on Constitutional Affairs to review the constitutional relationship between the BCSB and the MCs and their functions.

22.On a member's suggestion to discuss newspaper reports on triad-related activities, the Panel noted that the subject was outside the purview of BCSB and that the issue would fall within the scope of the Panel on Information Policy.

VI.Any other business

23.At the request of a member, the Administration undertook to provide a progress report on the issues raised in the "Arts Policy Review Report" issued in 1993.Adm

24.The Chairman expressed concern over a recent press report that information on the preparation of explosives was available on the Internet. He enquired whether the Administration had any measures to regulate broadcasting of such information. SBCS (Ag) advised that BCSB was responsible for the regulation of obscene and indecent materials transmitted through the Internet, and the regulation of security-related information on the Internet was outside the policy purview of BCSB.

25.The meeting ended at 12:30 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
26 September 1997