QUALITY programmes for teenagers are near to non-existent in the results of a recent survey on the public appreciation of television programmes. Of the 20 most-appreciated programmes, only one is about teenagers. Excluding pop music programmes, only three are featured on the 100 programmes nominated by the four television stations. The latest Television Appreciation Index has polled 2,115 Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong residents aged nine and above. Topping the list are soaps and more current affairs programmes compared to past surveys, thanks to concerns over the war in Iraq and the atypical pneumonia outbreak. (See table.) Media educator and former television industry worker Choi Chi-sum was not surprised by the repport. 'The lack of choice on the free television channels has always been a problem,' he said. 'Soaps have formed the bulk of prime-time programmes for more than 20 years, and they are often similar - full of distortion of reality.' The general secretary of charity The Society for Truth and Light, cautioned that even children's programmes were of the same format. 'There are many cartoon series which are soaps in nature.' Teen programmes do not have to preach. Rather, they should stimulate critical thinking, help youngsters develop a variety of interests, or even allow them participation in the production process, Mr Choi said. But high quality programmes have failed to appear because revenue tops the priority list of the commercial television stations, and the higher rating of soaps have ensured plenty of advertising income. But an RTHK spokeswoman disagreed that there is a lack of quality programming for teenagers. She stressed that current affairs programmes are also suitable for youngsters. She pointed out that RTHK programmes take up only 10-and-a-half hours of evening prime-time each week on the three main networks, and their productions cater for many sectors of society, such as the elderly and children. 'You have to look at the whole picture and balance all the interests,' she said. Television Broadcasts Limited said there will be more programmes for teenagers in the summer. Rather than urging new regulations, Mr Choi called for parents and teens to initiate changes. 'A taste for good programmes should be groomed when young. Many children simply watch what their parents prefer,' Mr Choi said. He encouraged people to turn to other choices: the radio, cinema, other cultural activities, or even DVDs such as those produced by National Geographic or Discovery Channel. 'You can even write to the stations to call for improvement,' Mr Choi said.