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Film Classification and Control of Obscene Articles
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*Our policy objective in regulating obscene and indecent articles is to protect public morals and young people from harmful effects of obscene and indecent materials while preserving the free flow of information and safeguarding the freedom of expression.
*The publication (including distribution, circulation and sale) and public display of obscene and indecent articles (including printed matters, sound-recordings, films, video-tapes, discs and electronic publications) are regulated by the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (COIAO) (Cap. 390). However, the Ordinance does not apply to films, film packaging and film advertising material covered under the Film Censorship Ordinance and television broadcasts governed by the Broadcasting Ordinance.
*Under the COIAO, "obscenity" and "indecency" include violence, depravity and repulsiveness. An article may be classified as -

Class I   : Neither obscene nor indecent
Class II  : Indecent
Class III : Obscene

*Class I articles may be published without restriction. Class II articles must not be published to persons below 18. Publication of Class II articles must comply with certain statutory requirements, including the sealing of such articles in wrappers (completely opaque wrappers if the covers are indecent) and the display of a warning notice as prescribed by the Ordinance (i.e. "This article contains material which may offend and may not be distributed, circulated, sold, hired, given, lent, shown, played or projected to a person under the age of 18 years.") on no less than 20% of the front and back covers of such articles. Class III articles are prohibited from publication.
*The Obscene Articles Tribunal set up under the COIAO has exclusive jurisdiction to decide whether an article is obscene, indecent or neither. The Tribunal comprises a presiding magistrate and two or more members of the public drawn from a wide spectrum of the community to serve as adjudicators. Upon receipt of a submitted article, the Tribunal will conduct a first hearing in private and give an interim classification within five days. Requests for review of classification may be lodged within five days of the interim classification taking effect. If the interim ruling is not disputed, it will be confirmed as the final classification. If a request for review of the interim classification is lodged, the Tribunal will conduct a full hearing in public. The decision of the Tribunal at the full hearing is final unless an appeal is made to the Court of First Instance on a point of law.
*In determining whether an article is obscene or indecent, the Tribunal shall have regard to standards of morality generally accepted by reasonable members of the community, the dominant effect of the article as a whole, the class or age of the likely recipients, the location at which the article is displayed and whether the article has an honest purpose.
*The Ordinance is enforced by the Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration, the Customs and Excise Department and the Police. Publishing or possessing for the purpose of publication an obscene article is liable to a maximum fine of $1 million and imprisonment for three years. Publishing an indecent article to a person below 18, publishing an indecent article not in compliance with the statutory requirements and publicly displaying any indecent matter are liable to a maximum fine of $400,000 for imprisonment of 12 months on a first conviction, and to a maximum fine of $800,000 and imprisonment for 12 months on a second or subsequent conviction.
*Submission of articles to the Tribunal is entirely voluntary. Publishers, authors, printers, manufacturers, importers, distributors and copyright owners may submit articles to the Tribunal for classification rulings if in doubt.
*Members of the public who have enquiries and complaints on the regulation of obscene and indecent articles may contact the Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration through -
Complaints telephone hotline: 2676 7676
Post: 39/F, Revenue Tower
5 Gloucester Road, Wanchai