On-air Educational Television (ETV) services for secondary schools, first introduced in the 1970s, will be scrapped in two years, legislators were told yesterday. Director of Education Matthew Cheung Kin-chung announced the move as he faced questioning from lawmakers at the Legco Public Accounts Committee public hearing. Mr Cheung said the Government would stop broadcasting the secondary school programmes in 2003-2004 and gradually replace them with VCDs to be produced by RTHK and distributed to schools. It will also examine the future of primary schools' programmes in the two years after 2003-04. A standing committee on ETV, to be formed by the end of this month, will make a final decision on the way forward for the reform of the entire service. The committee, to be chaired by the deputy director of education, will comprise representatives from RTHK, the Education and Manpower Bureau, the Information Technology and Broadcasting Bureau, the Education Department, the teaching profession and the media. The Government started broadcasting ETV programmes to primary schools in 1971 and to secondary schools in 1976. The ETV service is available to students from Primary One to Secondary Five level. Dominica Siu King-lo, controller of ETV, said it was too early to say whether RTHK would have to review its staffing as a result. Last week, the Director of Audit criticised RTHK's budget control over educational television for schools as 'inadequate', with each minute of programming costing an estimated $19,000. Despite the high production cost, the Audit Commission report disclosed that the viewing rate of such programmes at secondary schools in 2000-01 was generally low - 18 per cent. Mr Cheung, pledging that the Government would update all Secondary One ETV programmes this year, said: 'Our goal is to move with the times . . . ETV may have already fulfilled its historic mission at secondary schools.' Secretary for Education and Manpower Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun said: 'I believe it's impossible to use the real-time broadcasting mode in future because we are encouraging schools to be more flexible in their timetable.' She said they would explore using the ETV air time for programmes on pre-school, adult and parent education. Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, of the Liberal Party, voiced fears that the educational VCDs could be just as boring as the ETV programmes. He said it would become difficult to gauge whether the programmes were value-for-money. Wong Hak-lim, of the Professional Teachers' Union, backed scrapping the ETV programmes, saying they were no longer attractive to secondary students.