The Authority regularly reviews its Codes of Practice and modifies and repeals those appear to be outdated. New provisions, such as giving domestic pay television programme service licensees the option to use channel labelling as an alternative to broadcast advisory announcements for channels acquired for direct retransmission, were also introduced to offer the licensees more flexibility in the operation of their services. The objective is to relieve the licensees from any unnecessary regulatory burden without compromising viewers' interest. During the year, the Authority approved the following amendments to the Codes.
Relaxation of the Requirements on Provision of Advisory Information on Pay
Television Programme Services
facilitate viewers to make an informed choice in the selection
of programmes, the Generic Code of Practice on Television
Programme Standards contains provisions requiring domestic
pay television programme service licensees to broadcast an
advisory announcement together with a descriptive statement
of the problematic contents at the start of any individual
programme containing unsuitable for children or disturbing
material. The domestic pay television programme service licensees
requested the Authority to review the provisions as they encountered
difficulties in complying with the requirement for satellite
feed channels carried on their platforms.
After carefully considering the matter, the Authority decided to provide the licensees an alternative to comply with the existing requirement. Instead of carrying an advisory announcement and statement for each programme with problematic contents, the licensees were allowed to display on screen an icon denoting the classification of the contents at the frequency of at least four seconds in every clock hour on thematic channels (except channels showing movies and drama series) acquired for direct retransmission. For movie and drama channels, the requirement for labelling for individual drama and movie programme remained, as the contents of such programmes were too varied to have one single classification for the whole channel. The licensees were given a grace period until 9 March 2006 to comply with the new requirement.
Removal of Restrictions on Promotional Programmes
The Authority's Generic Code of Practice on Television Programme Standards has a provision prohibiting the repeat broadcast of promotional programmes on commercial television services. As it was considered that the frequency of broadcast of promotional programmes should be driven by market considerations, the respective restriction was therefore removed.
Relaxation of Requirements on Portrayal of Human Relationships
For domestic free television programme services and sound broadcasting services, there was a provision in their respective programme codes requiring the licensees to respect the sanctity of marriage and the importance of the home in the portrayal of human relationships in their programmes. As the licensees are already required to treat the portrayal of family and other important human relationships with sensitivity was already covered by other provisions in the codes, this specific provision was removed. The relaxation was not intended to undermine the concept of the family, but to give producers and artistes more flexibility to portray different forms of human relationships, social values and cultures in their programmes.
Consequential Amendments to Provisions on Real Property Advertising
Arising from the enactment of the Securities and Futures
Ordinance (Cap. 571), consequential amendments were made to
the provisions in the codes for real property advertising
on television and radio. The amendments were to allow the
broadcast of advertisements inviting the public to participate
in certain investment scheme or agreement in respect of real
property, subject to the authorization of the Securities and
Futures Commission or exemptions under the Securities and
Removal of Restrictions on Repetition of Advertisements
The provision in the Generic Code of Practice on Television Advertising Standards that prohibited the broadcast of the same advertisements contiguously on domestic free television programme services was first introduced in 1989, following public complaints about the nuisance of watching the repeat of the same advertisement after its immediate broadcast. The provision was regarded as outdated as the scheduling of advertisements should be driven by market considerations, and was deleted to remove unnecessary regulatory burden imposed on licensees and to promote self-regulation in a competitive environment.