Stricter rules for networks

PRINCIPAL officers of broadcasting stations may be required to be 'fit and proper persons', the Government said yesterday, following concern about Yu's criminal record.

Yu also owns satellite television company Chinese Television Network (CTN) which is scheduled to launch next month, initially targeting the Taiwanese and Singapore markets.

It plans to reach Hong Kong and the mainland in the long term.

Principal assistant secretary for Recreation and Culture, Peter Pelham, said the administration was considering putting such a provision in the omnibus Broadcasting Ordinance.

'This is a provision used in a number of overseas jurisdictions. There have been suggestions over a number of years that we should adopt this measure.' Since the airwaves were public resources, the authority had the responsibility to ensure the stations were properly run.

He said it was unlikely the provision would be retrospective.

The administration had yet to define 'fit and proper', Mr Pelham said.

The all-encompassing ordinance, which Mr Pelham said contained 140 pages, would provide the legislative framework for all types of broadcasters.

He said there was a time slot in Legislative Council for the bill to be tabled next February.

Secretary for Recreation and Culture, James So Yiu-cho, said the 'fit and proper person' proposal was initiated two months ago and had nothing to do with Yu.

At present, radio and television stations are regulated by the Broadcasting Authority Ordinance, Telecommunication Ordinance and the Television Ordinance.

Assistant Commissioner of the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, David Webb, said the legislation required local broadcasting licensees to be Hong Kong residents.

But there was no provision in the code of practice or the licence conditions that the principal officers or owners had to be fit and proper.

The Recreation and Culture Branch said the Government had not received an application for a broadcasting licence from CTN.