LegCo Paper No. CB(2)2728/96-97
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/PL/BCS

LegCo Panel on Broadcasting, Culture and Sport

Minutes of Meeting
held on Monday, 14 April 1997 at 10:30 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling (Chairman)
    Hon MOK Yin-fan (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen

Members Absent :

    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP

Public Officers Attending :

Item II
Mr Alex FONG
Deputy Secretary for Security
Mr Edward TO
Assistant Secretary for Security
Mr HSU King-ping
Chief Fire Officer
Mr CHENG Wei-dart
Deputy Director of Building
Mr PO Pui-leong
Assistant Director (Environmental Health)
Urban Services Department
Mr CHENG Tak-wing
Senior Staff Officer (Public Health)
Urban Services Department
Mr LAI Kwok-tung
Assistant Director (Environmental Health Policy)
Regional Services Department
Mr PANG Moon-kwan
Superintendent (Licensing), Royal Hong Kong Police Force
Mr Joe YIU
Assistant Director of Information Services (Publicity)

Item III
Miss Joanna CHOI
Principal Assistant Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport
Mr Alfred CHUNG Chun-man
Chief Building Surveyor/CS
Mr HSU King-ping
Chief Fire Officer
Mr CHU Man-chun
Deputy Chief Fire Officer
Mr LAI Kwok-ting
Assistant Director (Environmental Health Policy)
Regional Services Department
Mr PO Pui-leong
Assistant Director (Environmental Health)
Urban Services Department
Mr CHENG Tak-wing
Senior Staff Officer (Public Health)
Urban Services Department

Attendance by Invitation :

Item II

Hong Kong Association for the rights of Karaoke, Entertainment & Catering Business Ltd
Mr LAM Lai-ming
Committee member
Mr Isaac CHAN
Mr KWAN Lim-ho
Mr Raymond CHAN
Chartered Building Surveyor Authorised Person

Item III
Hong Kong Theatres Association Ltd
Mr CHUI Hung-kai
Mr Eddie HO
Chairman, Supervisory Committee
Mr WONG Kwok-ming
Member, Supervisory Committee
Mr Eric LI
Representative of Edko Films Ltd
Mr Peter LUK
Representative of Edko Films Ltd
Miss CHU Lai-ping
Executive Secretary

Clerk in Attedance :

Mrs Anna LO
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :

Miss Anita HO
Assistant Legal Adviser 5
Mr Colin CHUI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2

I.Date and items for discussion for next meeting

Members agreed that -

  1. the regular April meeting scheduled on 24 April 1997 should be cancelled.
  2. the next meeting would be held on 22 May 1997 at 10:30 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building to discuss the following:

    1. archaeological sites at Yung Shu Wan, Lamma to follow-up on the site visit to these sites on 12 April 1997. The Hong Kong Archaeological Society, Archaeological Action Group and other interested parties would be invited to the meeting.
    2. provision of venues for the promotion of local visual arts.

II. Proposed licensing for karaoke establishments

(Paper No. CB(2)1828/96-97 (01) - submission provided by the Hong Kong Association for the Rights of Karaoke, Entertainment & Catering Business Ltd)

(Paper No. CB(2)1813/96-97 (01) - paper provided by the Administration)

The Administration proposed to introduce a new licensing regime for karaoke establishments. Urban Services Department (USD) and Regional Services Department (RSD), together with other departments, were now actively examining the details of a possible licensing scheme. USD and RSD would be taking the lead in developing the licensing scheme. The Regional Council (RC) did not object to be the licensing authority. Subject to the confirmation of the Urban Council (UC), USD together with RSD would take up the role of licensing. The two departments would report their proposals to UC/RC, if possible, in June 1997 for their endorsement. In drawing up the scheme, the Administration would give consideration to health, building, fire safety and vice-control issues. It was envisaged that new karaoke establishments would be brought under the scheme. As for existing karaoke establishments, the Administration proposed to require them to upgrade their standards in phases to lessen the impact. A public consultation exercise to collect opinions from interested parties, particularly from the karaoke business, would be conducted before legislative proposals were finalised.

Composite licences for karaoke establishments

Members noted that at present, fire safety requirements for karaoke establishments were imposed and reviewed as and when required - typically, when an applicant applied for a General Restaurant or Light Refreshment Restaurant Licence (issued by UC/RC), or a Club Licence (issued by the Home Affairs Department (HAD)). If a karaoke establishment did not operate as a general or light refreshment restaurant or as a club, it could operate with just a Business Registration Certificate (BRC). According to Police statistics, there were some 209 karaoke establishments without any licence other than a BRC.


A member said that karaoke establishments were operated as both places of public entertainment and general restaurants/light refreshment restaurants/clubs. Composite licences should therefore be issued to cater for these two modes of operation of karaoke establishments. The Administration responded that the suggestion of composite licences related to two issues - (a) definition of a karaoke establishment and (b) relationship between the proposed karaoke licence and the existing three types of licences. It would take these issues into account in developing the licensing scheme. At the member’s request, the Administration undertook to provide statistics on the number of karaoke establishments with/applying for any of the existing three types of licences. Another member opined that the licensing scheme should regulate the karaoke establishments that did not have any licence other than a BRC. The requirements under the new scheme should be consistent with those under the existing three types of licences.

Interim guidelines on fire safety constructions for karaoke establishments

In response to the Chairman, the Administration pointed out that the Buildings Department (BD) had provided professional associations concerned with draft interim guidelines on fire safety constructions for karaoke establishments for comments. The following five major areas of fire safety requirements were covered in the draft interim guidelines - (a) location and layout of karaoke premises, (b) fire resistance construction, (c) dead-end situations, (d) provision and arrangement of exits and (e) ventilating systems. BD planned to publish the guidelines in June 1997 after consultation with the professional associations concerned. The deputation opined that the karaoke trade should also be consulted on the guidelines. The Administration undertook to contact the deputation to exchange views on the guidelines.


Fire safety requirements for "karaoke boxes"

The deputation supported in principle the additional fire safety requirements for "karaoke boxes" referred to in para 9 of the Administration’s paper. Nevertheless, it was concerned that the requirement of alarm bells at individual cubicles might be subject to abuse. Customers intending to make off without payment might activate the fire alarm system leading to an evacuation from the karaoke establishment concerned. The Administration undertook to address the deputation’s concern.


III. Places of Public Entertainment (Amendment) Bill 1997

(Paper No. CB(2)1641/96-97 (01) - submission provided by the Hong Kong Theatres Association Ltd)

The Chairman recapitulated that the legislative proposal in the Bill was discussed at the Panel meeting on 23 January 1997. The Bill was introduced into LegCo on 5 March 1997. The House Committee had not decided on the formation of a Bills Committee. On 20 March 1997 the Hong Kong Theatres Association Ltd (the Association) had written to the Chairman of the House Committee strongly protesting against the Bill. It was agreed at the House Committee meeting on 21 March 1997 that the matter should be referred to the Panel for discussion.

Referring to the LegCo Brief on the Bill, representatives of the Administration briefed members on the background to the Bill. They reiterated that in order to strengthen enforcement action against the continued illegal operation of unlicensed places of public entertainment (PPEs) (e.g. cinemas), the Bill sought to give the licensing authorities power to apply to a magistrate for the grant of a Prohibition Order to prohibit the keeping or use of a PPE for all purposes or for any purposes specified in the Prohibition Order. If the Prohibition Order was breached, the licensing authorities might apply to a magistrate for a Closure Order to close the unlicensed business. Similar provisions already existed under section 128 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Chapter 132) in respect of unlicensed food premises.

In reply to a member, representatives of the Administration said that the number of unlicensed cinemas was seven (three in the Regional Council area and four in the Urban Council area).

(Post-meeting note : The Administration advised that the up-to-date number of unlicensed cinemas in the Urban Council area should be five vide Paper No. CB(2)1923/96-97 (01).)

Lengthy licensing procedure for PPE

Representatives of the Association stated that the Association strongly objected to the Bill. They attributed the operation of unlicensed cinemas to the lengthy (not less than nine months) licensing process involved. 22 cinemas opened in the past six years operated without PPE licences pending completion of the licensing procedure. It would be unfair to the cinema trade if unlicensed cinema operators had to discontinue their business pending the result of the requisite licence. The licensing process should be shortened, preferably to 60 days which was the time required to fit out a cinema.

Representatives of the Administration said that the licensing procedures in respect of PPEs were well-established. The two Municipal Services Departments, being the executive arm of the licensing authorities, performed a co-ordinating role in PPE licensing. BD and Fire Services Department (FSD) were consulted before a licence was issued to ensure that in addition to health requirements, the premises concerned had complied with requirements pertaining to building safety, means of escape and fire safety. The two Municipal Services Departments had no difficulty in complying with the performance targets in respect of cinema licensing set out in their paper (Annex to Paper No. CB(2)697/96-97 (03)). FSD adhered to the following performance targets -

Action Taken bythe Department

Time Taken

Initial inspection

within 14 days upon referral from USD/RSD

Follow-up inspection

within seven days

Final inspection

within seven days upon notification of compliance of requirements

Issue of certificate

within seven days

BD’s performance pledge in this area was that it would respond to referral from USD/RSD in 45 days. According to records, the reasons why some cinemas had experienced difficulties in the issue of licences were as follows: -

  1. The proposed layout plans failed to pass the initial screening by USD/RSD, BD or FSD due to factors such as: -

    1. existence of unauthorized building works;
    2. structural safety problem; and
    3. unsatisfactory provision of fire safety measures.

  2. The proposed layout plans were subsequently revised by applicants and further clearance with BD and FSD was required thereby protracting the processing time.

Temporary PPE licence

A member suggested that temporary PPE licences (like temporary licences for food premises) be issued to cinemas pending completion of the licensing procedure. The Association would like to have details of the licensing conditions of the temporary licence to see if they were acceptable. The Administration undertook to consider the member’s suggestion. It added that, even if the suggestion of temporary licence was acceptable to the Administration, the legislative proposal concerned might not be able to be introduced into LegCo in the current session.


Formation of Bills Committee

ALA5 reported that the drafting aspect of the English version of the Bill was in order. She had discussed with the Administration on some drafting aspect of the Chinese version of the Bill; and it would propose Committee stage amendments (CSAs) to address her concerns. She would examine the CSAs when they were available.

Members considered that the Association’s concern on the lengthy licensing process related to the executive effectiveness of the licensing system, in particular the work of BD and FSD. In this respect, the two departments could perhaps improve the efficiency in discharging their duties. The Association’s concern was unrelated to the object of the Bill which was to strengthen the protection of public safety at venues where public entertainment was intended to be held. The Panel agreed to recommend to the House Committee that a Bills Committee for the Bill was not necessary.

(Post-meeting note : The Panel’s recommendation was supported by Members at the House Committee meeting on 18 April 1997.)

The meeting ended at 12:56 pm.

LegCo Secretariat
18 June 1997

Last Updated on 12 Aug, 1998