Provisional Legislative Council
PLC Paper No. CB(2)704
(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, 7 November 1997 at 11:45 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon MA Fung-kwok (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon David CHU Yu-lin
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
    Hon Henry WU
    Hon CHAN Choi-hi
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen

Members Absent:

    Hon MOK Ying-fan (Chairman)
    Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
    Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Public Officers Attending:
Mrs Rita LAU
Deputy Secretary (Broadcasting and Entertainment)

Miss Joanna CHOI
Principal Assistant Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport
(Film and Entertainment)

Mr Eddy CHAN
Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing

Assistant Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing (Entertainment)

Clerk in Attendance:

Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2
Staff in Attendance :
Mr Colin CHUI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2

In the absence of the Chairman who was engaged in other urgent commitments, Mr MA Fung-kwok, Deputy Chairman, chaired the meeting.

I. Confirmation of minutes of meeting and matters arising
(PLC Paper No. CB(2)544)

2. The minutes of meeting held on 3 October 1997 were confirmed.

Use of dangerous goods in film production

3.The Deputy Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport (DSBCS) briefed members on the Administration's progress report [Paper No. CB(2)513(01)] about the review of the use of dangerous goods in film production. Members noted that the Inter-Departmental Working Group chaired personally by the Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport (SBCS) had held its first meeting on 17 October 1997 and started the review. On the interim measures to facilitate the film industry to operate within the law, the Working Group found that the existing control system could not suit the actual operations of the film industry and that there was a need to develop long-term measures to tackle the problem. As regards the formulation of a comprehensive proposal on the regulatory system, the Working Group would make reference to overseas experience and a fact-finding visit to the California State Fire Marshal Film Industry Unit was being arranged. As formulation of a new comprehensive proposal would take time, the Administration would provide a progress report to the Panel in June 1998. At the request of a member, DSBCS agreed to report the review progress to the Panel before the end of the current session. She also noted another member's suggestion that the review should take into account factors like public safety and the adequacy of insurance cover for all parties involved in using dangerous goods during film shooting. Admin

II. The proposed family entertainment centres and licensing of amusement game centres [Paper Nos. CB(2)513(02) and CB(2)526(01)]

4.At the invitation of the Deputy Chairman, the Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing (C for TEL) briefed members on the Administration's paper [Paper No. CB(2)513(02)] on the progress of developing a licensing framework for the establishment of Family Entertainment Centres (FECs). The salient points of discussion are set out below.

Protection of children from harassment

5.Some members were concerned about the possibility of triad infiltration as persons over the age of 16 would be allowed to use the facilities in FECs together with minors. They asked whether there would be measures to protect children from harassment by triad elements. C for TEL responded that FECs aimed at providing healthy entertainment of high quality for the enjoyment of families and different age groups. While the problem of harassment could not be totally eliminated, the FECs were expected to be large establishments providing a wide variety of services and should therefore be better managed than some of the existing AGCs which were much smaller in scale.

Operating hours of FECs

6.Referring to a letter of the Licensed Amusement Game Centres Trade Association (LAGA) to all Members of the Provisional Legislative Council in September 1997 [Paper No. CB(2)526(01)], a member expressed concern that the longer operating hours (10:00 am -10:30 pm) proposed for FECs would give FEC operators a competitive edge over those of AGCs which were currently required to close at 8:00 pm. C for TEL responded that the proposed FEC operating hours were in line with those of shopping malls where most FECs would be located. In view of the objections and suggestions of LAGA, the Government would re-examine the licensing framework for FECs. In this respect, another member was of the view that the Government should not be concerned with commercial considerations, or attempt to regulate market operations in formulating the legislative framework for FECs. She considered that the licensing framework should aim at facilitating the trade to comply with the necessary safety and licensing standards. DSBCS responded that it had always been the Government objective to cut down red-tapes to help business. While potential FEC operators and other entertainment centre operators generally supported the introduction of FEC to Hong Kong, LAGA which represented some 65% of AGC operators had withdrawn its support of the initiative and raised objection to the scheme. The Government therefore considered it prudent to review the proposals and consult the trade and all concerned parties before formulating the concrete proposals.

Applicability of Amusement Game Centres Ordinance to FECs

7.Noting the LAGA's suggestion that FECs should be subject to the same licensing conditions applicable to AGCs in respect of age admission requirements, a member suggested that the Amusement Game Centres Ordinance (AGCO) could be altered so that there would be two types of AGCs, one for persons aged 16 or above and the other for all age groups. This would obviate the need of designing a new licensing system soley for FECs. In response, DSBCS explained briefly the background of AGCO which was enacted in 1993 to regulate the operation of AGCs mainly to protect children from harrassment and undesirable influence, and from gaining access to amusement games not suitable to children. Some of the regulatory measures for AGCs might therefore not apply to FECs because of the different nature of operation and clientele.

8.A member raised whether the operation of FECs were similar to Whimsyland and, if so,whether FECs could be placed under the existing licensing scheme for Whimsyland. DSBCS pointed out that Whimsyland was subject to a different type of licence and it could not provide games regulated by AGCO. However, under the existing conceptual framework, FECs would provide a variety of games including those provided by Whimsyland and AGCs. As such, it would appear that FECs might require more than one licence under AGCO and other ordinances such as the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance. To cut down red-tape, the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Bureau (BCSB) would examine the best way to streamline licensing requirements in consultation with the licensing authorities. The intention was to put in place a feasible and user-friendly licensing system for FECs.

9.A member commented that the LAGA's suggestion of a new legislation governing the licensing and operation of FECs would only make the existing entertainment licensing system even more cumbersome, as some public entertainment centres might require several licences under different ordinances in order to operate. She therefore urged the Government to consider simplifying the licensing requirements in line with the Government Helping Business programme. She suggested that, in the long-term, there should only be one licensing authority to deal with all types of entertainment licences. DSBCS shared the member's views on simplification and rationalisation of licensing requirements and said that before finalising the detailed proposals, BCSB would need to consult the licensing authorities including the municipal councils, Fire Services Department, Buildings Department and the Police. The Government would report to the Panel when concrete proposals were available.

III. Items for discussion at the next meeting [Paper No. CB(2)513(03)]

10.Members agreed that the next meeting would be held on 5 December 1997 to discuss -

  1. work of the Obscene Articles Tribunal; and

  2. video-on-demand (VOD) programme services.

IV. Any other business

11.The Deputy Chairman informed the meeting that Mrs Sophie LEUNG had resigned from the Panel with effect from 6 November 1997. The Panel currently had 12 members and the quorum remained to be four members including the Chairman.

12.The meeting ended at 12:50 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
4 December 1997

Last Updated on 9 December 1997