Legislative Council

LC Paper No. LS 68/98-99

Paper for the House Committee Meeting
of the Legislative Council
on 18 December 1998

Legal Service Division Report on
Film Censorship (Amendment) Bill 1998

Objects of the Bill

This Bill amends the Film Censorship Ordinance (Cap. 392) (the Ordinance) so as to :

  1. simplify existing censorship requirements for still films;

  2. empower the Film Censorship Authority (the Authority) to prescribe forms;

  3. empower the Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting (SITB) to make regulation on the time frame for delivery of services to the public; and

  4. simplify appeal procedures currently available against a decision of the Authority or a censor on film censorship matters under the Ordinance.

LegCo Brief Reference

2. ITBB(CR)8/6/1(98) Pt. 3 issued by the Information Technology and Broadcasting Bureau dated 25 November 1998.

Date of First Reading

3. 9 December 1998.


4. The main object of this Bill is to exempt still films (i.e. slides) of a cultural, educational, instructional, promotional and religious nature and for non-commercial purpose intended for exhibition from submitting to the Authority for censorship purpose (Clauses 2 and 4).

5. To guard against possible abuse, the Authority will have the reserve power to require exhibitors to submit still films for examination (proposed section 8A(3) and (4)).

6. The other object is to empower the Authority (i.e. the Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing) to prescribe forms. At present, forms are prescribed by the SITB by regulation. It is proposed that new forms and amendment to existing forms are to be introduced administratively, i.e. without going through legislative amendment.

7. This Bill also seeks to simplify the appeal procedures by enabling requests for a review of a decision of the Authority or a censor to be made to the Board of Review through the SITB instead of through the Chief Secretary for Administration. The SITB can decline to refer a decision to the Board if he is satisfied that the request is made in a frivolous or vexatious manner (Clause 10).

8. Clause 12 empowers SITB to make regulation to prescribe the statutory time frame for the delivery of services to the community. The relevant time frames are now taken out of the Ordinance and are put in the Film Censorship (Amendment) Regulation 1998 to obviate the need for frequent legislative amendment to the Ordinance. According to the Administration, the time frames are shortened and this Regulation (see Annex B of the LegCo Brief) will be made on the same day as that of enactment of the Film Censorship (Amendment) Ordinance 1998.

Public Consultation

9. According to paragraph 11 of the LegCo Brief, representatives of major film industry associations have been consulted. They supported the proposed amendments. Cultural and professional organizations which regularly submit non-commercial slides to the Authority have also been consulted. They welcomed the proposal to remove censorship requirement for slides of non-commercial nature.

Consultation with the LegCo Panel

10. After the meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting held on 14 December 1998, the Information Technology and Broadcasting Bureau issued a paper on this Bill for Members' information. In the paper, the Administration further explained that the amendments to the Ordinance were proposed consequent upon the completion of a review of the Ordinance which the Government undertook to conduct in the Final Report of the Government Task Force of Services Promotion published in March 1997 and the 1997 Policy Address. According to the Administration, the amendments aim to streamline the operation of the Ordinance and make the regulatory regime more user and business-friendly.


11. The legal and drafting aspects of the Bill are in order. Members may wish to decide whether to form a Bills Committee to discuss the policy aspects of the Bill.

Prepared by

HO Ying-chu, Anita
Assistant Legal Adviser
Legislative Council Secretariat
16 December 1998