Fine for Wharf over cruel scene

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 September, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 September, 1994, 12:00am

WHARF Cable has been fined $10,000 by the Broadcasting Authority for screening a children's drama that showed a boy throwing a cat off a balcony.

The scene from the programme Lonely Boy, which was broadcast on the Cable Children Channel in late May, was described yesterday as too cruel, unnecessary and inhumane by an authority spokesman.

A repeat of the scene in slow motion at the end of the 30-minute programme was also described as gratuitous and unnecessary.

'The scenes could frighten, unnerve and cause pain to children,' the spokesman added.

But the senior public relations manager for Wharf Cable, Laurie Ho Ywai-lam, said the network would launch an appeal against the fine to the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority.

'While we cannot deny that the death of the cat at the end of the programme might have upset viewers, there was equal emphasis on the sorrow and remorse felt by the boy,' she said.

'The need for better communication between children and parents was also stressed and we feel that these messages were quite clearly conveyed in the programme.' Ms Ho said that the camera had focused on the sorrow on the child's face after he threw the cat off the balcony.

But the authority decided that the episode constituted a breach of the subscription television programme code relating to the treatment of animals, the portrayal of violence and the protection of children.

TVB received a serious warning for transmitting two blocks of promotional material for a number of variety specials under the title Fun in Summer Camp within the programme EYT: Satchi - Queen King.

The authority said the promotional material had not been broadcast during breaks within programmes, or intervals between them, as required under their licence.

The authority said it was mindful that TVB should be more careful following a similar complaint only four months ago.

But manager of the standards and practices department at TVB, Alan Hoo Chi-lun, said he was surprised by the warning.

'In a way it is fair but it is also a bit of a surprise. I think they have gone from giving us strong advise to a strong warning because the two were so close together.

'Although what we did violated the spirit of the law, the promotion and the programme were similar in nature and so it was not against the public interest.' TVB received a second serious warning for breaching a restriction which bans advertisements from inviting viewers to take part in property deals with the purpose of receiving gains alleged or likely to arise from such deals.

The authority said the advertisement for Parklane Garden (Dongguan) carried the claim that the developer would guarantee a 200 per cent repurchase value.