TV stations told not to cut English broadcasts

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 12:00am

The two free television stations have been urged not to increase broadcasts in Putonghua at the expense of English language programmes.

Lawmakers also called on the Government to tighten the licence conditions for TVB and ATV in the wake of public complaints about violence and bad language in their programmes.

Their current licences will expire in November and a review is pending to decide if new conditions should be imposed.

Concluding a public forum at a Legco meeting yesterday, the Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing, Eddy Chan Yu-tak, said people wanted more Putonghua programmes, which are mainly available on TVB Pearl and ATV World at off-peak hours.

At present non-English language programmes cannot exceed 20 per cent of the air time on English channels. Mr Chan said the limit had not yet been reached.

On the issue of complaints by the public, Mr Chan said: 'They feel that the level of violence is excessive. Similarly, they do not appreciate much the use of rude language or popular slang.'

Howard Young of the Liberal Party said Putonghua programmes should only be increased on the Chinese channels.

'We don't want English proficiency in Hong Kong to continue to fall. We don't want Hong Kong lagging behind,' he said, referring to the 24-hour English-language channel of China's state-owned CCTV.

Emily Lau Wai-hing of The Frontier echoed the concerns and asked if the licences would be renewed with new conditions restricting bad language and violence.

But Democrat Sin Chung-kai, chairman of the Legco information technology and broadcasting panel, said he favoured as few regulations as possible.