LegCo Paper No. CB(2)2391/96-97
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/PL/BCS

LegCo Panel on Broadcasting, Culture and Sport

Minutes of the Meeting
held on Thursday, 27 February 1997 at 10:45 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling (Chairman)
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP

Members Absent :

    Hon MOK Ying-fan (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun

Members Attending :

    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee

Public Officers Attending :

Item III
Mrs Rita LAU
Deputy Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport
(Broadcasting and Entertainment)
Ms Ernestina WONG
Acting Principal Assistant Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport
(Film and Entertainment)

Item IV
Mrs Rita LAU
Deputy Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport
(Broadcasting and Entertainment)
Ms Ernestina WONG
Acting Principal Assistant Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport
(Film and Entertainment)
Mr Eddy CHAN
Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing
Assistant Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing
Senior Superintendent of Police
Mr Vincent POON Yeung-kwong
Assistant Commissioner of Customs and 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 meeting and matters arising

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2)1321/96-97)

The minutes of meeting held on 23 January 1997 were confirmed.

II. Date and items for discussion for next meeting

2. Members agreed to the following -

  1. In order to give way to the Special Finance Committee meeting on 27 March 1997, the meeting originally scheduled on 27 March 1997 was advanced to 21 March 1997 at 10:45 am to discuss licensing of karaoke establishments.

    (Post-meeting note : The meeting on 21 March 1997 was cancelled. The subject of licensing of karaoke establishments would be discussed at the special Panel meeting on 14 April 1997.

  2. A visit to the archaeological sites on Lamma Island would be arranged on 12 April 1997.

III. Regulation of obscene and indecent materials transmitted through the Internet

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2)1030/96-97 provided by the Administration)

3. Representatives of the Administration briefed members on the Administration’s paper which reported the outcome of the public consultation exercise and the Government’s policy decision not to introduce further regulatory controls on obscene and indecent materials transmitted through the Internet at this stage. The Panel would be kept informed of the progress on the implementation of the recommendations set out in para 13 of the Administration’s paper. Members generally supported the Administration’s decision.

Code of Practice (para 13(a) of the Administration’s paper)

4. A member enquired details of the industry-developed Code of Practice. Representatives of the Administration said that the Government agreed with the Internet Service Provider (ISP) industry that it should not be a compulsory requirement for individual ISPs to join any particular association of the industry. Nevertheless, out of some 90 ISPs in Hong Kong, 29 of them, representing a substantial market share, had joined the Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association (HKISPA). HKISPA was currently drawing up a Code of Practice which would cover, among other things, the regulation of pornographic materials available on the Internet. Comments from the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch (BCSB) would be sought on the Code. BCSB would monitor the implementation of the Code and the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (TELA) would increase publicity to enhance public awareness of possible measures to restrict access to pornographic materials on the Internet. The existing complaint mechanism would also be publicised.

Liaison with the ISP industry

5. On the question of liaison with the ISP industry on developing a self-regulatory framework, the Administration pointed out that it would inform ISPs of the decision set out in its paper and would hold discussions with them on the development of the Code of Practice. Where necessary, the Administration would assist ISPs in the process.

Use of filtering/labelling tools (para 13(b) of the Administration’s paper)

Education and publicity campaigns on proper use of Internet (para 13(c) of the Administration’s paper)

6. Another member suggested that more Government-led and initiated actions should be taken particularly in relation to the recommendations set out in para 13(b) and (c) of the Administration’s paper.

7. The Administration pointed out that filtering and/or labelling tools were developed by the industry. These tools could only filter/label materials with word(s) commonly found in pronographic materials (e.g. the word "sex") but publishers of these materials might get round such filtering/labelling tools by not using these words. Hence the problem of transmission of obscene and indecent materials to juveniles through the Internet could not be totally resolved by the use of such tools. As parallel measures, the Government would promote computer literacy in schools and launch publicity campaigns to arouse awareness of the proper use of the Internet.

Parental guidance

8. In reply to a member, the Administration pointed out that it would brief the Committee on Home-school Co-operation on the Government’s policy decision to tackle the problem and invite the Committee’s assistance in promoting parental guidance to young people.


International co-operation

9. In response to a member, the Administration said that there was no designated international body on regulation of obscene and indecent materials transmitted through the Internet. Nevertheless, there were exchanges of experience on this issue between countries in international forums.

Complaint handling

10. A member suggested the establishment of an international committee, with the Hong Kong Broadcasting Authority as a member, to handle complaints on obscene and indecent materials transmitted through the Internet. The Administration responded that it had reservations on involvement of the Broadcasting Authority in handling such complaints which involved classification of materials by the Obscene Articles Tribunal. If members of the public wished to lodge complaints on pornographic materials transmitted through the Internet, they might do so through the hotline operated by TELA. Where appropriate, TELA would refer the cases to the Police for action. The Police also handled complaint cases directly. In fact, TELA had only received three complaints of this nature so far. These complaints had been referred to the Police for investigation. Two successful prosecutions relating to the publication of obscene materials through computers had been made.

IV. Implementation of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (COIAO)

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2)1273/96-97 (01) provided by the Administration)

Control of pornographic CD-ROMs/video compact discs (VCDs)

11. Referring to the statistics in para 4 of the Administration’s paper, a member opined that the problem of pornographic CD-ROMs/VCDs was serious. The Administration said that the substantial increase in seizures of CD-ROMs/VCDs and the number of prosecutions were the results of increased operations. It would continue to take enforcement actions and increase publicity to enhance public awareness (particularly that of parents and schools) of this problem. In response to the member, the Administration undertook to provide details (such as the number of persons convicted and the penalties imposed) of successful prosecutions relating to pornographic CD-ROMs/VCDs in 1996.


12. Another member stressed the importance of enforcement actions, rather than education and publicity, in the fight against pornographic CD-ROMs/VCDs which might be pirated copyright products and sold under the control of organised syndicates. She considered that enforcement agencies should accord higher priority to the problem. In this connection, manpower of the Police and Customs and Excise (C&E) Department should be strengthened.


13. Representatives of the Administration responded that education and publicity, together with enforcement actions, could enhance public awareness of the problem of access to pornographic materials by young people. People arrested for selling pornographic CD-ROMs/VCDs had no knowledge of the operators behind the scene. Nevertheless, the Police would investigate whether organised syndicates were involved in the sale of pornographic CD-ROMs/VCDs. C&E Department took enforcement actions against pornographic CD-ROMs/VCDs irrespective of whether they were pirated copyright products. It was difficult to establish whether the seized products infringed copyright as the copyright owners would not turn up to prove copyright ownership.

Control of pornographic publications and other articles

14. Referring to a written representation together with a survey report from the Anti-Pornography Alliance (attached to LegCo Paper No.CB(2)1196/96-97), the Chairman pointed out that, according to the Alliance, pornographic publications had a very serious adverse impact on teenagers. The Administration should therefore address the problem.

15. A member suggested restricting the sale of Class II (indecent) publications to designated licensed shops; but the Administration doubted if the suggestion could solve the problem. It pointed out that the sale of indecent publications had to comply with statutory requirements, e.g. sealed in wrappers; warning notice on 20% of each cover of the article, etc. News vendors had a responsibility not to sell these publications to persons below the age of 18. The Administration considered that parental guidance to children in the choice of leisure readings should be more important.

16. In reply to a member, the Administration provided the following statistics -


No. of inspections conducted by TELA

No. of prosecutions on indecent feature articles in newspapers










The statistics indicated that with increased inspections, the number of prosecutions on indecent feature articles in newspapers had dropped over the past three years. In this connection, the member requested the Administration to advise the number of prosecutions instituted against news vendors who sold indecent/obscene articles to persons below the age of 18.


Role and manpower resources of TELA

17. Members were extremely concerned about the sale of pornographic materials, in particular CD-ROMs/VCDs, in public places. To tackle the problem, they suggested that TELA should be provided with more manpower resources and authority, similar to those of the Hawker Control Teams of the two Municipal Councils, or that TELA should be turned into another disciplined service for the enforcement of COIAO. The Administration pointed out that enforcement of COIAO in respect of the sale and publication of indecent and obscene articles (including CD-ROMs/VCDs) was the joint responsibility of the Police, C&E Department and TELA. The Police mainly dealt with the sale of pornographic articles at the wholesale and retail outlets e.g. video and computer shops in the districts. In this respect, TELA provided assistance to the Police in regular joint operations. The C&E Department tackled pornographic articles at the entry points and in the course of copyright protection work. TELA monitored articles (particularly print articles such as newspapers, magazines) on sale in the market and issued summonses against publishers if their publications did not comply with statutory requirements. As TELA was a civilian department, operations involving investigations, arrests and seizures should more appropriately be performed by disciplined forces, i.e. the Police and C&E Department. Moreover, it would not be cost-effective to turn TELA into a disciplined service. The Administration was requested to conduct more joint operations and revert to the Panel on the issue in May on the special three-month campaign against pornographic materials.


18. The meeting ended at 1:04 pm.

LegCo Secretariat
22 May 1997

Last Updated on 12 Aug, 1998