LegCo Paper No. CB(2)2519/96-97
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/BC/5/96

Bills Committee on Television (Amendment) Bill 1996

Minutes of the 6th Meeting
held on Wednesday, 26 February 1997 at 10:45 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo (Chairman)
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip (Deputy Chairman)>
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

Members Absent :

    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP

Public Officers Attending :

Mrs Rita LAU
Deputy Secretary (Broadcasting and Entertainment)
Principal Assistant Secretary (Broadcasting)
Mr Eddy CHAN
Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing
Assistant Director of Telecommunications
Senior Assistant Law Draftsman

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Anna LO
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :

Mr Jonathan DAW
Consultant, Legal Service Division
Mr Colin CHUI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2

I. Confirmation of minutes of meetings held on 20 and 30 January 1997 and matters arising

(LegCo Paper Nos. CB(2)1293 and 1294/96-97)

The minutes of meetings held on 20 and 30 January 1997 were confirmed.

II. Meeting with the Administration

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2)1320/96-97 - paper provided by the Administration)

Draft licence condition prohibiting live broadcasts

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2)1326/96-97 - responses from deputations on the Administration’s draft licence condition)

Members shared most deputations’ view that the draft licence condition prepared by the Administration was generally acceptable. Representatives of the Administration reiterated that the Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport would make a commitment in his speech during the resumption of Second Reading debate of the Bill to include a licence condition that prevented a programme service licensee from providing live programming pending a review in 1998. The Administration would take into consideration the comments of deputations in refining the draft licence condition.

Definition of the word "live"

A member enquired as to the Administration’s response to the New World Telephone Limited’s suggestion of adding the definition of "live" programme in the Bill. The Administration reiterated that as explained in its paper (Paper No. CB(2)1194/96-97 (01)), it believed that the best way to achieve the objective of preventing a programme service licensee from providing live programming pending a review in 1998 would be by way of a licence condition. The company’s suggestion was therefore not acceptable to the Administration.

VOD carrier

In response to the concern of the Hong Kong Telecommunications Users Group, the Administration stressed that the materials offered by a programme service licensee could be carried to the subscribers by any of the four Fixed Telephone Network Services (FTNS) licensees. The Telecommunication Ordinance and FTNS licences required the FTNS licensees to provide a telecommunication service to the future programme service licensees under tariffed terms and conditions.

Clause 8 - Powers of the Broadcasting Authority

Representations of the Administration recapitulated that at the last meeting, it agreed to consider members’ suggestion that the Broadcasting Authority should be given the power under section 19(2) to give directions to a programme service licensee to ensure that its broadcasts were capable of being received, to the satisfaction of the Broadcasting Authority within such area and within such time as the Broadcasting Authority might specify.

Representatives of the Administration reiterated that a programme service licensee would not have ultimate control of the network over which its service was delivered. The Government therefore took the view that it would not be reasonable for the Broadcasting Authority to issue a direction to a programme service licensee that it could not implement directly. However, the Government accepted that there could be circumstances in which a licensee had not taken advantage of suitable connections to parts of Hong Kong to provide its service, when it would be reasonable for the Broadcasting Authority to issue a direction, in order that the licensee should enter into an appropriate arrangement with a Fixed Telecommunication Network Service licensee. The Government also accepted that the Broadcasting Authority would be under a legal duty to act reasonably. The Government therefore agreed that section 19(2) should be applied to programme service licensees, in the same way as other licensees. Accordingly, the amendments proposed in clause 8 would not be necessary, since the present wording of section 19(1) and (2) would ensure that the Broadcasting Authority had powers of direction over all licensees under the Television Ordinance, including programme service licensees.

Other amendments

As a follow-up to the last meeting, representatives of the Administration highlighted the following proposed amendments with no policy implications -

Clause 9 - section 22

(a)The word ‘television’ would be inserted after ‘commercial’ in the amended version of section 22 proposed in clause 9.

Clause 10

(b) The references to ‘programme service’ in sections 23(2)(a) and 23(2)(d) would be replaced by the term ‘broadcasting service’ to avoid confusion with the new category of licensing proposed. Clause 10 would be amended to reflect this.

Clause 17 - Schedule 1B

(c) The title of Schedule 1B should be amended to read ‘ITEMS WHICH ARE NOT TO BE REGARDED AS NEWSPAPERS FOR THE PURPOSES OF PARAGRAPH (c) OF THE DEFINITION’ to make it clearer that the items listed in Schedule 1B would be excluded from the definition of ‘newspaper’ for the purpose of paragraph (c) of the definition in section 2. Clause 17 would be amended accordingly.

Clause 19 - Consequential amendments

(d) The consequential amendment to section 9(1)(ab) of the Broadcasting Authority Ordinance (Cap. 391) should be amended to delete the word ‘providing’ before ‘programme services’. An amendment to item 2 of the Schedule in clause 19 was proposed.

The Administration pointed out that a complete list of the proposed Committee stage amendments (CSAs) discussed at the Bills Committee meetings was set out in the Annex to LegCo Paper No. CB(2)1320/96-97. Members supported the Bill as amended by the proposed CSAs.

III. Legislative timetable

Members agreed that -

  1. the proposed CSAs set out in the Administration’s paper would be moved by the Administration; and
  2. the Bills Committee would report back to the House Committee on 7 March 1997 recommending resumption of Second Reading debate of the Bill on 19 March 1997.

The Chairman reminded members that, if they wished to move any further CSAs, the deadline for giving notice of such CSA(s) was 10 March 1997.

The meeting ended at 11:17 am.

LegCo Secretariat
2 June 1997

Last Updated on 15 October 1997