PLC Paper No. CB(2)71
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration and
cleared with the Chairman)
Ref : CB2/PL/BCS
LegCo Panel on Broadcasting, Culture and Sport
Minutes of the Meeting
held on Friday, 20 June 1997 at 9:15 am
in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building
Members Present :
Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling (Chairman)
Hon MOK Ying-fan (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Members Absent :
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun, JP
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Public Officers Attending :
- Items II to IV
- Mrs Rita LAU
- Deputy Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport
(Broadcasting and Entertainment)
- Miss Joanna CHOI
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport
(Film and Entertainment)
- Mr Eddy CHAN
- Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing
- Mr Gary YEUNG
- Assistant Commissioner for Television and Entertainment
- Item III
- Mr P G HUNT
- Senior Superintendent of Police (Support)
- Mr POON Yeung-kwong
- Assistant Commissioner for Customs & Excise
Clerk in Attendance :
- Mrs Anna LO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2
Staff in Attendance :
- Mr Colin CHUI
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2
I. Confirmation of minutes of meetings and matters arising
(LegCo Paper Nos. CB(2)2391 and 2728/96-97)
The minutes of meetings held on 27 February and 14 April 1997 were confirmed.
II. Indecent materials in video games and review of "family viewing hours"
(Paper No. CB(2)2692/96-97 - provided by Mr Andrew CHENG)
Indecent materials in video games
Referring to his paper, Mr Andrew CHENG was of the view that the electronic game "Triad Tamagotchi " might contain indecent materials. The game was expected to be available for sale at the book exhibition to be held in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in July 1997. He would like to know how the Administration would deal with the problem associated with "Triad Tamagotchi".
Representatives of the Administration said that the Television and Entertainment Authority (TELA) could not take any enforcement action authorised under the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (COIAO) unless and until the electronic game had been classified as Class II or III by the Obscene Articles Tribunal (OAT). The Ordinance empowered the Administration to submit articles for classification by OAT but did not require authors, printers, manufacturers, publishers, importers, distributors or copyright owners or persons commissioning the design, production or publication of articles to do so. Articles could however be submitted voluntarily to OAT for classification. In view of the public concern on the electronic game, TELA would purchase the electronic game once available in the market and submit it to OAT for classification. The Administration would also seek legal advice on what further action could be taken in the interim. One possible way was perhaps to exhort voluntary submission of articles to OAT for classification before sale.
Sale of Class II articles in the book exhibition
Mr Andrew CHENG was concerned about control of the sale of Class II articles in the exhibition. In this connection, he suggested these articles to be sold in a designated area at the exhibition. The Administration pointed out that management of the exhibition venue rested with the management committee of HKCEC. The management committee could impose appropriate terms in the service agreement to require booksellers to provide sufficient manpower for crowd control and to comply with the provisions of the laws of Hong Kong in the sale of books/publications etc.
Review of "family viewing hours"
Mr Andrew CHENG said that upon legal advice, a radio station decided not to broadcast its interview with an alleged Macau triad leader. The interview was, however, subsequently shown on television at 8:30 pm. He was concerned about the broadcasting of this interview at that hour because children these days went to bed at a late hour. He therefore suggested extension of the "family viewing hours" (currently from 4:00 pm to 8:30 pm) to 9:30 pm and if possible, to 10:30 pm.
The Administration pointed out that under the broadcasting policy, the Government protected the interests of children and youths against pornographic materials as well as freedom of expression and editorial freedom. Both must be balanced. To implement the policy, the Broadcasting Authority was given statutory powers to monitor licensed broadcasters who were required to comply with the codes of practice and might be penalised for not doing so. In view of the possible absence of working parents from home during the "family viewing hours", the codes imposed stringent restrictions on the content of programmes shown during this period. Parents should take responsiblity for their childrens viewing after this period. In this connection, television programmes shown outside this period which were classified as programmes requiring parental guidance or programmes suitable for mature audience had to be accompanied by labels "PG" and "M" to be displayed from time to time during broadcast. The length of the current "family viewing hours" was reviewed in 1994 in a Broadcasting Authority study in which 66% of respondents supported the existing 4.5-hour period, while 18% considered it too long. As there were different bedtime habits for children, it was difficult to fix the period of extension. The Administration therefore considered it inappropriate to extend the "family viewing hours".
Mr MOK Ying-fan and Mrs Selina CHOW did not consider it necessary to review the "family viewing hours" on the basis of isolated incidents. Other members present considered that the Administration should conduct a review of the "family viewing hours" and the restrictions on the contents of programmes broadcast during these hours.
III. Implementation of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance - Report on the special campaign against pornographic materials from March-May 1997
(Paper No. CB(2)2692/96-97(01) provided by the Administration)
A member was concerned that the operators behind the scenes usually escaped prosecution for the sale of pornographic materials. Representatives of the Administration said that they would strengthen the Administrations intelligence work to assist in identifying and prosecuting the operators.
Another member asked about the need for an increase in manpower of the three enforcement agencies concerned (i.e. the Police, the Customs and Excise Department and TELA) to combat the sale of pornographic materials. Representatives of the Administration said that the existing manpower of TELA was sufficient to tackle the problem.
Regarding the enforcement actions on the sale of Class II (indecent) articles, the Administration pointed out that through its stepped-up inspections and publicity efforts, TELA advised shop operators to be more vigilant in observing the statutory requirements in the sale of these articles. On the question of international co-operation in the fight against pornographic materials, the Administration pointed out that it would continue to seek co-operation with authorities/governments overseas to curb cross-border movement of pornographic materials.
A member asked whether heavier penalties could be imposed on persons convicted of selling pornographic materials. The Administration pointed out that COIAO was last revised in 1995 to provide for heavier penalties. Under the Ordinance, heavier penalties might also be imposed upon offenders on second or subsequent convictions. The sentences on offenders rested with the court but the Administration might apply for a review of inappropriate sentences.
To tackle piracy of copyright pornographic materials, the member suggested addition of a deeming provision in the copyright laws to require persons convicted of selling pornographic materials under COIAO to prove that they had not infringed the copyright laws. Representatives of the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch undertook to refer the suggestion for consideration by the Trade and Industry Branch which was the policy branch for copyright legislation.
IV. Round-up report of the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Panel
(Paper No. CB(2)2692/96-97(02) - prepared by the LegCo Secretariat)
The Chairman drew members attention to para 4 of the report which mentioned, among other things, that he had written both to the Chief Secretary and the Chairman of Urban Council (UC) (LegCo Paper No. CB(2)2499/96-97) rebuking the UCs decision not to approve the applications of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (the Alliance) for exhibition of the Sculpture titled "The Pillar of Shame" at Chater Garden and the Piazza or Sculpture Walk at the Kowloon Park; and the way in which these applications had been handled and considered. The Chief Secretarys (CS) reply (Paper No. CB(2)2758/96-97(01)) was tabled at the meeting while the UC Chairmans reply was still awaited.
(Post-meeting note : The UC Chairmans reply was received after the meeting and circulated to members vide Paper No. CB(2)2756/96-97(01).)
Mr Albert CHAN was disappointed in and dissatisfied with the CS reply. He opined that, in comparison with the committee paper presented by the Regional Services Department to the Regional Council (RC) concerning the Alliances applications for use of RC leisure grounds for similar purpose, the committee paper presented by the Urban Services Department (USD) to UC was biased and misleading. The comparison reaffirmed his doubt on the political neutrality of the USD officers concerned in handling the Alliances applications. Mrs Selina CHOW took the view that there was no political element in the UCs committee paper, the wording of which did not reflect a biased attitude.
Regarding the Panels rebuke to UC for political censorship on the Alliances applications, Mr Howard YOUNG remarked that UC was an independent statutory body enjoying full autonomy with regard to formulation of policy, expenditure and powers in a responsible manner; and UC members were, ultimately, accountable to their electorate. It was neither appropriate nor desirable for LegCo to interfere in decisions that were made by a fully elected body. Mr Andrew CHENG considered that UC rejected the Alliances applications on the grounds of the contents of the displayed article. As only the Obscene Articles Tribunal was vested with the statutory power to determine the decency or otherwise of a publicly displayed article, UC had no authority to determine the contents of any article for public display. As such, the UCs rejection of these applications was inappropriate. Notwithstanding the autonomy of UC in performing its functions, there should be a mechanism to check its powers, particularly in cases where things had gone wrong. In this connection, he asked about the statutory mechanism governing the two municipal councils (MCs). The Administration pointed out that the Urban Council Ordinance and Regional Council Ordinance governed the functions and powers of the Urban Council and Regional Council respectively. Members might wish to seek advice from the Legal Adviser of LegCo on the provisions of these Ordinances.
In view of the difference of opinion on the issue and the outstanding reply from UC, Messrs Albert CHAN and Andrew CHENG suggested to hold a special meeting to further discuss the matter. Mrs Selina CHOW and Mr Howard YOUNG said that they, together with Mr Paul CHENG, due to absence from Hong Kong, were unable to attend the last meeting at which the Panel decided to write to CS and the UC Chairman. They therefore would like to seek clarification on the rationale for the Panels decision at this meeting and to place on record their views on the matter. However, they had no intention to request for a review of the Panels decision and considered the special meeting unnecessary. In conclusion, the Chairman said that he would consider the need for the special meeting after receipt of the UC Chairmans reply.
The meeting ended at 11:00 am.
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
23 July 1997
Last Updated on 12 Aug, 1998