The following is the speech by the Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting, Mr K C Kwong, at the Opening Ceremony of the 66th Administrative Council Meeting
of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union this (Thursday) morning:
Mr Ebisawa, Mr Hugh-Leonard, Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to have been invited to speak at the Opening Ceremony of the 66th Administrative Council Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union.
Broadcasting permeates the daily lives of people all over the world. In the Asia-Pacific region, not only is it a popular means of entertainment, it is also a vital source of news and information. Hong Kong is one of the most media friendly places in the world. Our 1.9 million households are served by a wide variety of broadcasting services, including terrestrial television, domestic radio, cable television, the world's first video-on-demand television programme services and a multitude of satellite channels.
The rapid advancement and convergence in technologies are bringing about revolutionary changes to the broadcasting environment. These changes are posing big challenges to broadcasters everywhere. But, at the same time, they are opening up unprecedented opportunities. Equally, policy-makers and regulators are facing immense challenges arising from these changes.
It is against this background that the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region conducted a comprehensive review of our television policy last year. We have since then decided on a package of policy initiatives which are aimed to keep Hong Kong in the forefront of the application of advanced technologies in the broadcasting industry.
A key policy decision stemming from the review is the opening up of the television market for competition by whatever means of transmission that are technically feasible. We believe that a vibrant television market will attract investment, encourage innovation and, most important of all, bring the widest choice of quality services to the viewers. Within the next few months, we will be inviting licence applications for the provision of new television services in Hong Kong.
On the technological front, technical trials are being undertaken on digital audio broadcasting and later this month, we will start technical trials of digital terrestrial television.
There is, of course, much more to be done by policy-makers and regulators to bring the policy and regulatory frameworks in step with technological developments. But I believe you will agree with me that the development of the broadcasting industry in the Information Age will have to be driven primarily by broadcasters and programme-makers. In this respect, the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union plays a valuable role in bringing together broadcasters from around the region to exchange ideas and share experiences in this fast-growing industry. In particular, your deliberations will have far-reaching impact on the quality of programme-making and the standardisation of broadcasting equipment amongst your 100 members from 49 countries and territories.
May I, on behalf of the five additional full members (RTHK, ATV, TVB, CR & Metro) and the five affiliates (Asia Sat, CETV, HK Telecom, STAR & Cable TV) from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, extend a warm welcome to delegates and attendees to the 66th Administrative Council Meeting of the ABU. And I wish you all a productive meeting.
End/Thursday, May 13, 1999