Reverse gay show ruling: lawmakers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 March, 2007, 12:00am

RTHK director says Broadcasting Authority's warning on programme about homosexuals could affect creative freedom

Lawmakers yesterday unanimously passed a motion demanding the Broadcasting Authority withdraw its ruling that an RTHK programme on gay lovers was unfair, partial and biased towards homosexuality.

But RTHK's director of broadcasting Chu Pui-hing said after the Legislative Council's information technology and broadcasting panel that the motion was not legally binding. He also was concerned the authority's warning would affect creative freedom.

Mr Chu insisted that the public broadcaster never attempted to impose any stance on the issues it covered.

He said the existing code of practice should only apply to issues on which society had an overwhelming opinion. 'For example, we have no problem with the ban on broadcasting obscene and violent materials. But when a topic is highly controversial, we should not apply the same set of monitoring standards,' he said.

Mr Chu guaranteed at the Legco panel meeting that RTHK would not deviate from its mission to present different points of views in society, despite the ruling. However, he admitted the authority's warning would affect producers' discussions on future programmes and their way of interpreting the code of practice.

The authority issued a warning to RTHK in January on its programme broadcast in July last year, Hong Kong Connection - Gay Lovers, criticising it for only presenting the views of a gay man and a lesbian couple on same-sex marriage.

Legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing, who introduced the motion for the withdrawal of the ruling, was supported by all lawmakers at the panel meeting. Ms Lau urged the government to use the gay programme as an educational tool in primary and secondary schools.

Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Joseph Wong Wing-ping told legislators yesterday his role to ensure that RTHK followed the authority's guidelines was backed by law. Mr Wong was criticised for infringing editorial independence by initiating a meeting with Mr Chu after the director expressed disappointment with the ruling,

More than 30 groups voiced their views at the yesterday's panel meeting. Most condemned the authority's rulings against RTHK's gay programme and TVB's broadcast of an unedited version of An Autumn's Tale for its offensive language. The Equal Opportunities Commission said that up to the end of last month, it had received 1,103 enquiries on the case, with most expressing disapproval with the authority's decision. Representatives of the gay community said some broadcasters had cancelled interviews with them after the ruling. They said authority members were government-appointed and conservative people who knew nothing about the media, and the movie and cultural industries.

Adrian Wong Koon-man, chairman of the authority's complaints committee, said the watchdog did not exercise any moral judgments. Members only focused on the issue of impartiality, he said. Mr Chu yesterday confirmed that RTHK had no position on the application of a judicial review by Joseph Cho Man-kit on the authority's ruling. The 26-year-old gay man was interviewed in the January programme.