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Independent committee to review public service broadcasting

The Government announced today (January 17) the setting up of an independent committee to review public service broadcasting (PSB) in Hong Kong.

The committee comprises the following members: Mr Raymond Wong (Chairman), Mr Chan King-cheung, Ms May Fung May-gay, Professor Leung Tin-wai, Mr Pao Wan-lung, Professor Judy Tsui and Mr Mathias Woo.

The committee will examine the justifications for PSB in the development of Hong Kong's broadcasting market, as well as its role and purposes against the resources required for such broadcasting. It will discuss issues concerning public accountability of PSB on editorial impartiality, programming policy and good governance. Measures for the Administration to evaluate the effectiveness of PSB with the participation of the public will also be covered.

The committee will recommend an appropriate arrangement for providing PSB in Hong Kong, and plans to implement such in the short, medium and long terms.

The Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr John Tsang, said that public service broadcasting should be public-interest oriented. It should cater to the needs of different audience groups in the community and serve as a benchmark for the industry in terms of programming quality.

"In Hong Kong, we do not have a clear policy on public service broadcasting. The transmission of such service is, on one hand, provided by RTHK, a government department. On the other hand, the licences of free-to-air commercial broadcasters also require them to provide prescribed amounts of public interest programmes.

"With the continuous changes in the broadcasting market in recent years, there is an urgent need for us to examine the pertinent issues relating to the development of public service broadcasting in Hong Kong."

Mr Tsang pointed out that in Hong Kong, the subject of public service broadcasting had been politicised at the expense of professional and systematic analysis.

"We need to conduct a proper analysis and review. We need to formulate a clear policy framework for public service broadcasting in facilitating both its future development and that of the broadcasting industry."

"The Government considers that the best way forward is to establish an independent committee to study in depth and comprehensively the development of public service broadcasting," he said.

Mr Tsang expressed his gratitude to Mr Raymond Wong and the other six members for agreeing to serve on the committee.

"There is no government official on the committee. The members appointed by the Chief Executive include experienced media professionals, an expert in corporate governance and a cross-media creative artist."

"We expect the independent committee to approach the review in a professional, impartial and pragmatic manner, and to complete it in around nine months' time. Based on the review outcome, the Government will formulate a roadmap for the development of public service broadcasting for consultation with the public before implementation."

"The Government looks forward to the outcome of the review with an open mind. We hope that through the active involvement of the public in the review process, the community will gain a deeper understanding of public service broadcasting," Mr Tsang said.

The Committee Chairman, Mr Raymond Wong, said that the committee was fully cognizant of the challenges it faces in recommending ways to properly position public broadcasting in Hong Kong so that it might, with finite funding, provide the best and most appropriate programming for the community.

"To achieve this, the committee will make recommendations on the structure, funding, governance, management, programming, monitoring and accountability of the public broadcaster. It is hoped that these recommendations will address the immediate, medium and long-term public broadcasting needs of Hong Kong, regardless of the ever-evolving demographics of the territory or the rapidly advancing delivery technology," he said.

The membership of the Committee on Review of Public Service Broadcasting in Hong Kong is as follows:

Mr Raymond Roy Wong, SBS
Council Member of both the Hong Kong Baptist University and Open University of Hong Kong

Mr Chan King Cheung
Chief Editor, the Hong Kong Economic Journal

Ms May Fung May Gay
Member of the Council of the Hong Kong Baptist University

Professor Leung Tin Wai
Head, Department of Journalism and Communication, Hong Kong Shue Yan College

Mr Pao Wan Lung
Publisher, Sing Pao Newspaper Company Limited

Professor Judy Tsui
Dean, Faculty of Business, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Mr Mathias Woo
Creative Director, Zuni Icosahedron

Tuesday, January 17, 2006