Provisional Legislative Council
PLC Paper No. CB(2)552
(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 Thursday, 16 October 1997 at 9:00 am in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon MOK Ying-fan (Chairman)
    Hon David CHU Yu-lin
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
    Hon Henry WU
    Hon CHAN Choi-hi
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen

Members Absent :

    Hon MA Fung-kwok (Deputy Chairman)
    Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
    Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
    Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting

Member Attending :

    Hon WONG Siu-yee

Public Officers Attending :

Mr CHAU Tak-hay
Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport

Mrs Rita LAU NG Wai-lan
Deputy Secretary (Broadcasting and Entertainment)

Mrs Jenny WALLIS
Deputy Secretary (Culture and Sport)

Miss CHEUNG Man-yee
Director of Broadcasting

Mr Eddy CHAN Yuk-tak
Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance:

Mrs Justina LAM
Assistant Secretary General 2

Mr Colin CHUI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2

I. Briefing by the Administration on the Chief Executive's Policy Address
(PLC Papers No. CB(2)417 and CB(2)446(01))

At the invitation of the Chairman, the Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport (SBCS) briefed members on the 1997 Policy Programme of the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Bureau (BCSB). The salient points of discussion between members and the Administration are set out in the ensuing paragraphs.

Government's support and assistance to film industry

2.In response to members, SBCS said that the following new measures were being taken by the Government to support and assist film industry -

  1. In line with the Government Helping Business Programme, the Film Services Office (FSO) would be set up to simplify the bureaucratic procedures that film makers had to comply with in film shooting. The Government's plan was to have a single department to co-ordinate and facilitate the film industry in film production, especially with regard to location shooting applications.

  2. The Film Services Advisory Committee (FSAC) with SBCS in the chair would provide a direct conduit of dialogue between the film industry and Government. Representatives of the industry could advise SBCS on all matters relating to the film industry, including its long-term development and areas where government assistance was required.

  3. BCSB had recently set up an inter-departmental working group to conduct a comprehensive review of the existing regulatory system for the use of pyrotechnics in film production. The FSAC would have a role in contributing to the formulation of a system which could on the one hand ensure public safety and meet the practical needs of the film industry on the other.

  4. To promote the long-term development of the film industry in Hong Kong, a site designated for film production use had been included in the 1998 land disposal programme. The Government acknowledged that the lack of film studio facilities undermined film production capabilities and indirectly increased the demand for location shooting. In a densely-populated city such as Hong Kong, the problem associated with location shooting was particularly difficult to tackle. It was also noted that the popularity of films would be enhanced if computer technology and advanced audio-visual equipment were applied to produce special audio and visual effects in films. To encourage infrastructural investment in film production, the Government had decided to make available for public tender in the 1998 land disposal programme a site at Tseung Kwan O for film shooting and post-production purposes.

3.A member suggested that the proposed site for film production could also be developed as a tourist attraction like the Universal City Studios of USA. SBCS responded that the Hong Kong Tourist Association had put forward a similar proposal which was still under deliberation by the Government. The Tseung Kwan O site was merely for film shooting and post-production purposes.

4.In reply to a member, SBCS said that independent filmmakers could still compete with large film companies under the fair competition principles.

5.On the Government's work in promoting local films abroad, SBCS said that Hong Kong hosted its first international film trade fair in June 1997. Some 75 exhibitors and over 500 buyers participated in the event, and the Trade Development Council would organise the same in 1998. In the past years, the former Chief Secretary also promoted local films during overseas visits, sometimes with the company of local film stars.

6. SBCS pointed out that protection of intellectual property rights of local filmmakers was under the scope of responsibilities of the Trade and Industry Bureau. In view of members?concern, members agreed to discuss the subject at a future meeting.

Cultural policy

7. SBCS said that Hong Kong did not have a systematic and comprehensive cultural policy due to historical and pragmatic reasons before 1 July 1997. The existing cultural policy only really concerned the arts and focussed on promoting diversity in performing and visual arts according to the availability of resources. Government allowed freedom of thought, speech, information and the press so that people could give full play to their talents and creativity. In response to a member, SBCS explained that under the present constitutional framework, he was a 'Commander with no soldiers' in the promotion of arts and culture, since the two municipal councils were in control of the largest share of resources including venues for cultural activities. In 1996-97, the two municipal councils spent $1.426 billion, or 82% of the total expenditure on culture in Hong Kong. As municipal councils were independent statutory bodies, government bureaux and departments could not exert undue influence on them in the promotion of arts and culture. The proposed review by Constitutional Affairs Bureau of the three-tier representative government structure would help define the future roles to be played by the two municipal councils and the Government, thereby enabling the Government to allocate and utilise resources more effectively to promote arts and culture in Hong Kong.

8.On nurturing a sense of national identity, SBCS said that the Government would not take a prescriptive approach as Singapore. School teaching and civic education were the primary means to instil a greater knowledge and appreciation of our national history and culture. As Hong Kong people had been accustomed to a culture very different from that in the Mainland, it would need a gradual process for Hong Kong people to get to know more about Chinese history and culture, and to develop a sense of national identity.

Funding for Arts Development Council (ADC)

9.On the question of seeking more funds for ADC, SBCS pointed out that he had successfully sought a substantial increase in the resources allocated to ADC in the past year. However, further increases of the same magnitude in the coming years were constrained by the budgetary guideline that any increase of public expenditure should not over time exceed the estimated mid-term economic growth rate. He acknowledged that the work of ADC was subject to constraints, such as availability of venues and related facilities, most of which were under the control of the municipal councils.


Radio Television Hong Kong

10.A member remarked that, as a government department, the Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) should not broadcast current affairs programmes criticising the Government. SBCS said that it had been the established policy that RTHK enjoyed editorial independence in programme production with no interference from the Government. This was in line with the policy objective that Hong Kong should continue to have freedom of expression and of publications. The Director of Broadcasting (D of B) added that 80 % of RTHK's programmes were information and educational in nature which were not normally provided by commercial broadcasters. About 20 % of these were current affairs programmes or phone-in programmes in which members of the public could express their views on social issues. D of B stressed that this was an important aspect of freedom of speech in Hong Kong. In this respect, another member considered it important that RTHK should continue to enjoy editorial independence to maintain freedom of expression.

11.A member opined that RTHK should be allocated more resources to produce more high quality programmes similar to those provided by commercial broadcasters. SBCS said that like other government departments, the growth of annual expenditure of RTHK was also subject to the budgetary guideline that it should not exceed the mid-term growth rate. Because of funding constraint, RTHK was unable to provide more programmes. Moreover, it was also inappropriate for a public-funded broadcaster to compete with commercial broadcasters by providing similar services.

12.Regarding the pledge in the 1996 Policy Address to establish a new RTHK Putonghua radio channel, SBCS said that as set out in the Progress Report, a new Putonghua service had been launched by RTHK from 31 March 1997. BCSB would seek funding to improve the programme content and extend the hours of broadcast.

13.On the broadcasting arrangement in respect of Hong Kong's participation in the China National Games, SBCS said that the opening ceremony had been covered by the Central Television Station of China, and local television broadcasters could obtain agreement from the Station to broadcast such events. D of B added that the Radio Division of RTHK also reported on the opening ceremony and individual sporting events. However, owing to funding constraint and the absence of a dedicated television channel, RTHK was unable to cover the Games on television.

Elite sports training

14.Noting that a Hong Kong cyclist had won a gold medal at the China National Games, a member enquired about Government's support for elite sports training. As it was the objective of BCSB to make available a wide choice of sports and recreational facilities to the general public and to competitive sportsmen and women, the member asked whether facilities such as a veledrome would be provided to facilitate training of athletes. SBCS responded that, to ensure the continuation of the elite training programme currently undertaken by the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) as a training centre for Hong Kong's top athletes, Government would fund the programme from 1998-99 when the Jockey Club Trust Fund for HKSI was exhausted. Whilst there was no plan to construct additional veledromes for training or competition, cycling was one of the 12 focus sports to receive special attention under the elite training programme at HKSI. Moreover, funds were available to the Sports Development Board (SDB) to sponsor one-off projects to prepare elite athletes for major games. As regards the suggestion of sponsorsing training programmes for particular minority sports, SBCS would refer the matter to SDB and HKSI for consideration.

15.Members noted that the next regular meeting of the Panel would be held on 7 November 1997.

16.The meeting ended at 10:15 am.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
10 November 1997

Last Updated on 9 December 1997