TV viewers want Putonghua shows on Cantonese channels
More than half of television audiences surveyed want more Putonghua shows and would prefer them to be shown on the two free-to-air Cantonese channels.
ATV and TVB are planning to air more programmes in Putonghua on the ailing English-language channels.
According to the Broadcasting Authority, which collected 3,014 interviewees' opinions on the broadcasters' licences renewal, 58 per cent of viewers would prefer TVB and ATV to offer more Putonghua programmes.
Forty-two per cent want the Putonghua shows to be screened on ATV Home and TVB Jade, while 39 per cent hope to watch them on all Cantonese and English-language channels. Only 18 per cent said the TV stations should present the programmes on the English channels - ATV World and TVB Pearl.
At present, all prime-time shows between 7pm and 11pm on World and Pearl must be in English, according to the Broadcasting Ordinance. Outside these times, only 20 per cent of shows are allowed in other languages.
But low ratings, with only about 160,000 viewers a night watching the English channels, and consequent poor advertising income, have prompted broadcasters to lobby for change.
ATV says it wants Putonghua programmes to comprise 40 per cent of broadcasting hours on World, while TVB has asked for the right to air these shows in the prime-time slot.
Broadcasting Authority chairman Norman Leung Nai-pang said the regulator was now considering both the TV stations' proposals and the public's views on possible changes.
He did not rule out change to the renewed licences, which will be effective from December next year.
Spokesmen for ATV and TVB had no comment on the survey findings last night.
The survey found 77 per cent of viewers watch TV for entertainment and 61 per cent for information, such as news and weather reports.
Some 36 per cent said they turned on their sets because there was nothing better to do at home.