Public consultation launched to update broadcasting, telecoms laws

Framework will be created for discussion by end of this year at the earliest and consultation will be launched within the 2017/2018 financial year

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 June, 2017, 8:01pm
UPDATED : Monday, 12 June, 2017, 11:01pm

The government plans to launch a public consultation process to review the existing rules regulating the broadcasting and telecommunications industries, in view of the rapid changes taking place in market practices and technology.

A framework will be created for discussion by the end of this year at the earliest and the consultation will be launched within the 2017/2018 financial year, according to the paper by Commerce and Economic Development Bureau to Legco Council.

The review will include a number of controversial issues such as the cross-media ownership restrictions under the Broadcasting Ordinance, which was first introduced 17 years ago.

It also added that competition in the market is intensifying, and that broadcasting is increasingly becoming intertwined with the telecommunications, technologies and services sectors, and the internet.

The review aims to streamline the regulatory regimes to meet modern day needs, it said.

The Communications Authority was created with the merging of the Telecommunications Authority and the Broadcasting Authority in 2012, and there had been growing expectation an update in their rules and regulations was urgently needed.

Earlier, the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce said cross-media ownership control should be relaxed by allowing any person or entity to hold three out of four types of media outlets – radio, domestic free TV, domestic pay TV and newspapers – in line with global media trends.

The current law prohibits certain people or companies from holding licensees in the same category – an advertising agency and the proprietor of a local newspaper, for instance, from holding a license or controlling a local TV station – unless given special approval by the Chief Executive.

Also to fall under scrutiny are likely to be levels of shareholding in particular types of company,

without the Communications Authority’s prior approval.