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Results of mid-term review of sound broadcasting licences announced

The Government announced today (June 17) that the Chief Executive in Council had approved the recommendations made by the Broadcasting Authority (BA) following the mid-term review of the sound broadcasting licences of Hong Kong Commercial Broadcasting Company Limited (CRHK) and Metro Broadcast Corporation Limited (Metro), including new licence conditions to be imposed for the six years from 2010 to 2016.

"The BA's recommendations will address public views collected in the review and improve the services provided by the two licensees. The additional conditions could also ensure that the licensees comply with their new investment plans and commitments in the provision of positive programmes," a Government spokesman said.

The recommendations made by the BA and approved by the Chief Executive in Council are as follows:

(a) CRHK and Metro be required to comply with their respective investment plans for 2010 to 2016, i.e. CRHK to make a programming and capital investment of $827 million and Metro to make a programming and capital investment of $677 million;

(b) CRHK and Metro be required to submit to the BA an annual management report certifying the actual investment expenditure to facilitate the BA's monitoring of compliance by CRHK and Metro with their investment commitments for 2010 to 2016;

(c) CRHK and Metro be required to commit to enhanced positive programme requirements, namely, the provision of an additional 30 minutes of programmes for senior citizens per week, additional 30 minutes of arts and culture programmes per week, and at least 30 minutes of children's programmes per week with educational value targeting children up to the age of 15;

(d) CRHK and Metro be required to submit annual reports on compliance with their commitments in positive programmes, which will be made available to the public except for commercially confidential information expressly designated as such; and

(e) the licences of CRHK and Metro be amended to reflect the recommendations of the BA.

It is also noted that in the context of the mid-term review, Metro has committed to increase the broadcast of current affairs programmes to 10 hours per week. As for CRHK, it already broadcast an average of nearly 10 hours per week current affairs programmes during the first six years of the licence.

During the mid-term review, the BA conducted a public consultation exercise, including a territory-wide household survey, two public hearings and two discussion sessions with members of the Television and Radio Consultation Group of the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority to gauge public views on the services provided by CRHK and Metro. There were calls for greater programme variety, specifically covering current affairs programmes, arts and culture programmes, programmes for children and senior citizens.

The BA also examined the records of the licensees' compliance with the various regulatory requirements under the Telecommunications Ordinance, the licence conditions and the codes of practices in the past six years. It considered that while there were lapses on several occasions, these were infrequent having regard to the length of the service period and the number of broadcast hours involved. However, in view of CRHK's failure to meet its investment commitment for the past six years, it is noted that the BA had issued a warning to the broadcaster for the breach.

To tighten the monitoring of the licensees' compliance with their investment commitment, the BA proposed and the Chief Executive in Council agreed to impose a new requirement for the broadcasters to provide an annual management report certifying their actual investment expenditure in the year.

The current licences of CRHK and Metro have a validity period of 12 years from August 26, 2004 to August 25, 2016. The Telecommunications Ordinance and the respective licences provide that the licences may be reviewed after August 26, 2010, when they had run for half of their validity period, i.e. six years.

Friday, June 17, 2011