English subtitles for ATV and TVB
English subtitles will be mandatory on some television programmes as part of ATV and TVB's obligation to improve language skills, the Broadcasting Authority announced yesterday.
They must be used on news, weather and current affairs shows and emergency announcements on English-language TVB Pearl and ATV World from December 2004. Chinese subtitles must also appear on similar programming and all prime-time shows on TVB Jade and ATV Home by December next year. Most of their shows already have Chinese subtitles.
World and Pearl must also subtitle two hours of educational shows per week.
The conditions - which mean many shows will have bilingual subtitles - are part of the Broadcasting Authority's new code of practice. They will be among the stations' obligations for 12 years under the terms of licence renewals announced yesterday. ATV and TVB's current licences expire in December next year.
The new licences also require more cultural and arts shows for teenagers and the elderly.
Secretary for Industry, Commerce and Technology Henry Tang Ying-yen said: 'We hope that the free terrestrial TV service, while providing us with entertainment, will also enhance the language ability of the audience, and help promote the public's appreciation of arts and culture.'
Stephen Hui Chin-yim, a member of the Subsidised Secondary Schools Council, said the moves would improve English.
'Many students are turned off because the dialogue in some English programmes is spoken too fast or they don't understand the accent . . . [subtitles] would definitely help in learning.'