Authority clarifies gay programme censure

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 February, 2007, 12:00am

RTHK should have presented a more 'balanced' view on homosexual marriage in a controversial programme that was censured by the Broadcasting Authority, the chairman of the regulator said yesterday.

Daniel Fung Wah-kin charged the public broadcaster with advocating policy change - legalising gay marriage - in the programme Gay Lovers screened on July 9 last year, without offering counter views.

'The RTHK is a media organisation funded by public money. This is a structure well recognised by everybody. It should have a more balanced approach [in handling this sort of topic],' he said, adding that the ruling would be the same if it did not involve any public body.

Mr Fung said it was not only in Hong Kong where the topic of gay marriage was highly controversial.

'The programme only addressed the plight of three gay couples not being able to get married ... it did not address how gay marriage would impact on society,' he said.

Francis Ho Suen-wai, the authority's deputy chairman, said he believed the verdict on RTHK would have been different if the programme were on mentally disabled people, even though it might be one-sided.

RTHK issued a strong rebuttal against the authority's ruling. Former authority chief Cheung Man-yee also waded into the controversy by criticising the watchdog for lacking common sense.

Also challenged was the authority's ruling on TVB's screening of an unedited version of a decades-old love movie An Autumn's Tale on TVB's Jade Channel at about 1pm on October 1.

Mr Fung said it was unacceptable for a free TV channel to run material containing offensive language at a time when it was sure to be watched by young children.

Mr Fung said the authority did not devote a lot of time to content regulation, a task it wanted to delegate to the broadcasting licensees.

He said he would continue to discuss content with broadcasters, hoping to persuade them to deal with any initial complaints from the public while the authority would then have the final say.