WATCHING television is eight times more popular than horse racing in Hong Kong, according to a survey on leisure. The South China Morning Post poll also shows people say they spend as much time thinking about investments as eating and drinking. The survey, carried out by Asian Commercial Research, indicates that watching television is the most favoured pastime, more than twice as popular as reading books and magazines which ranked third. Shopping and window shopping came second, playing sport fourth and mahjong fifth. The survey, of 604 people split equally between men and women and across a 15-to-64 age group, asked what were the three or four activities most favoured during leisure time. Television was mentioned by 55 per cent, shopping by 49 per cent, reading books and magazines 27 per cent, sport 24 per cent and mahjong 23 per cent. Surprisingly, horse racing, considered a major passion in Hong Kong, ranked 14th with just seven per cent claiming to favour it. Karaoke was ranked 10th at 16 per cent and like video and computer games - just slightly more popular - they were both favoured by the younger age groups. The Deputy Director of Broadcasting for Radio Television Hong Kong, Chu Pui-hing, said that with television's popularity came responsibility. ''There has been a general perception for some time that although television is a dominant form of leisure activity, it has been affected by the emergence of other forms of activity such as video, karaoke and everything else,'' he said. ''The view is that this fragmented the audience and dealt a severe blow to the industry. But my own view is that, particularly terrestrial stations, will continue to dominate leisure time.'' However, Wilson Cheng Kwok-ming, spokesman for the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club, said he doubted the survey results painted a true picture of the racing scene. ''I don't think this figure is realistic. It seems a bit on the low side,'' he said. ''It is not just the on-course race-goers, there are 125 betting centres across the territory and we have 550,000 registered telephone betting holders.'' The survey indicated 13 per cent of men and just 0.5 per cent of women mentioned horse racing as a pastime. Mr Cheng said it was true that it was a male-dominated activity, but some punters in the survey may have been reticent about their preferences.