PATIENTS could be charged up to $10 a minute for after-hours advice from their doctor under plans for Hong Kong's first 'live' information telephone line. Interactive 173 numbers could be established this year if the Government gives the go-ahead. But the service - where callers speak to someone instead of hearing a recorded message - would not be extended to allow Sexy Sadies or Stevens to offer live pornographic chats, Hongkong Telecom said. The service was likely to be available for patients to call their doctors or companies for professional advice, such as computer problems. Hong Kong Medical Association chief executive Yvonne Leung Yuet-mei defended the idea of patients paying to speak to their doctors on the phone, saying that 'after hours the doctor has every right to charge'. Some of the revenue goes to the information provider - in this case the doctor or company - and some to Hongkong Telecom. 'Party' or 'chat' lines have sparked controversy in other countries, where youngsters have talked to strangers on the telephone for hours, running up huge bills. In the UK, customers have to pay a deposit to be linked to the lines. Infoline product manager Gilbert Chan Kam-shing insisted that any 'chat' line would be restricted to certain services. A June to November test of the territory's first live infoline had been done by software company Microsoft. 'It was a small trial to see if it was technically sound,' he said. Microsoft managing director Laurie Kan Siu-kei said his company had tried out the line on about 100 customers. The company wanted to offer such a service to specialist customers for whom a breakdown of their system would be a major disaster. It offers a free hotline and has 20 qualified engineers ready to answer the phone at any time. A charge line would 'give customers priority and the best qualified engineers, while the free line would have our standard engineers', he said. But the company would make no money from the service, since a maximum of 40 calls a day would not pay for a qualified engineer, he said. Medical association chief Ms Leung said doctors could subscribe to the lines and they would fix the charge. The association would not back a general help number for doctors, she said: 'It would be very dangerous to give advice without seeing the patient.'