'No need' for new broadcast branch

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 June, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 June, 1996, 12:00am

A Consumer Council recommendation for a new branch to handle the rapidly-developing broadcasting and telecommunications industries is set to be rejected.

Officials have decided there is no justification for another branch, but will review the decision in 1998.

The new branch was a major recommendation of the consumer watchdog's report on the broadcasting industry released in January.

As the technologies for delivering broadcast programmes and telecommunications signals converge, the council believed a new policy framework would improve Hong Kong's position on the information superhighway.

But the Government was inclined not to combine the two subjects, a source said.

Technology was not advanced enough to justify a reorganisation of the bureaucracy.

The use of computers for entertainment in Hong Kong was limited, the source said.

'We believe that we can wait until 1998 when we have promised to do a major review of the broadcasting industry.' Analysts are expecting little change in broadcasting policy in the run-up to the handover.

A reform of unwieldy laws has been shelved and a decision made not to grant any more pay television licences until the review is conducted in two years.

Broadcasting policy is handled by the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch, and telecommunications by the Economic Services Branch.

Hiving off broadcasting would leave the branch handling just culture and sport with little to do, the source said.