Former broadcasting chief steps into row over TV rulings

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 January, 2007, 12:00am

Former broadcasting chief Cheung Man-yee has waded into the controversy over two recent rulings by the Broadcasting Authority, lashing out at the watchdog for lacking common sense.

The authority's rulings on the 'Gay Lover' segment of the RTHK programme Hong Kong Connection and the classic movie An Autumn's Tale undermined creative freedom, Ms Cheung said.

Criticism by the former head of RTHK followed a statement issued by the authority on Friday defending its decision to caution TVB for the early-day screening of the movie, starring Chow Yun-fat, after complaints from the public.

Responding to a challenge by TVB to the ruling, the authority insisted the offensive language in the unedited version of An Autumn's Tale was unacceptable on television at any time, and that it was screened when children may have been watching.

A ruling last week by the authority on an RTHK segment about homosexual marriage also caused a stir. The programme was deemed 'unfair, partial and biased towards homosexuality'.

Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Joseph Wong Wing-ping held urgent talks with RTHK chief Chu Pui-hing last Monday after the broadcaster expressed reservations about the ruling.

Ms Cheung said yesterday: 'Hong Kong Connection has been an RTHK programme for almost 30 years. It is known for its professional and mild treatment of stories. Its programme title has also been translated into English as 'The Common Sense'. What's wrong with the authority's two rulings is that they represent a serious lack of common sense.

'The principle of impartiality does not equate to the rule of equal time as applied in election forums - when you give five minutes to candidate A, you ought to give five minutes to candidate B. It's a ridiculous interpretation and undermines creative freedom.'

Regarding the authority's remarks on the coarse expressions in An Autumn's Tale, Ms Cheung said: 'Children probably hear more offensive language and coarse expressions travelling on the MTR.

'As it's already categorised as parental guidance, why not leave it to parents? If I had a child of four, five years of age, I would not mind letting him watch the movie,' she added.