Censors are unlikely to gain extra powers to block politically unacceptable films after the handover, the head of the film and broadcasting watchdog said yesterday. Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority Commissioner Peter Cheung Po-tak said '1997 should bring no changes' for its low-key monitoring of films, broadcasting and publications. But his claim was challenged by independent legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing. Ms Lau, chairman of Legco's information panel, said: 'I don't think I will be able to share his optimism. The way the Chinese are behaving, they will toughen restrictions.' There is no prior censorship of publications or television and radio programmes, but films are viewed by authorities and advisers from the public in line with international practices. 'As long as the law prevails, we shall discharge our duties as we do at present,' Mr Cheung told an American Chamber of Commerce lunch. A law allowing censors to ban films considered likely to harm relations with other territories was removed from the statute books in 1994. Asked later by the South China Morning Post whether he could provide an assurance that censors would not regain the power after the return to Chinese sovereignty, Mr Cheung said: 'We can only exercise our functions as provided in the law. That power has been taken away through an amendment of the law. We don't have the power, so you don't need any assurance.'