Following is the speech by the Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting, Mr K C Kwong,in moving the second reading of the Entertainment Special Effects Bill in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):
I move that the Entertainment Special Effects Bill be read the second time.
At present, the use of dangerous goods for producing special effects in films, television programmes and theatrical performances is governed by the Dangerous Goods Ordinance and the Gas Safety Ordinance. Since these two Ordinances are not specifically designed to meet the operational needs of the film and entertainment industry and are enforced by five different departments, the industry encounters considerable difficulties in complying with the relevant requirements.
In view of this, the Information Technology and Broadcasting Bureau has conducted a comprehensive review on the use of dangerous good for producing special effects in films, television programmes and theatrical performances. The Entertainment Special Effects Bill has subsequently been drafted to provide a new regulatory system that meets the operational needs of the film and entertainment industry on the one hand and ensures public safety and security on the other. In drawing up the new regulatory system, we have engaged a US consultant to provide professional advice to the Government. We have also taken into account the Californian regulatory regime to which the film industry in Hollywood is subject. In so doing, we seek to develop a new regulatory system that will cater for the specific needs locally whilst at the same time drawing on the merits of the regulatory measures overseas.
The Entertainment Special Effects Bill
The Entertainment Special Effects Bill will streamline and improve the existing regulatory system. Key areas of the Bill are outlined as follows -
(a) a one-stop licensing authority, to be called the Entertainment Special Effects Licensing Authority (the Authority), will be established to oversee the supply, conveyance, storage and use of special effects materials. The Authority shall be the Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing;
(b) a licensing system for special effects operators will be set up and special effects materials for the production of entertainment special effects will have to be discharged by qualified practitioners. The Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (TELA) has been running training courses for local special effects operators since 1998. Trainees will receive provisional recognition if they pass the assessment on their completion of the courses. Provisionally recognised special effects operators may, within 90 days after the entry into force of the new legislation, apply for a formal licence in the same stream and class of licence as provisionally recognised and will be exempted from separate assessment. Such an arrangement will facilitate the migration of the local practitioners to the new licensing regime;
(c) the Authority will be the central body to process and approve applications for discharge permits, regardless of the type and quantity of the special effects materials involved;
(d) pyrotechnic special effects materials will be required to be registered with the Authority before they can be supplied, conveyed, stored or used in Hong Kong so as to ensure public safety;
(e) suppliers of pyrotechnic special effects materials will be required to be licensed to ensure proper monitoring of the supply of such materials; and
(f) other regulatory measures on the conveyance and storage of special effects materials will also be streamlined to the extent commensurate with public safety considerations.
Impacts of the new regulatory system on the local film and entertainment industry
When drawing up the new regulatory system, we have consulted the industry, the Film Services Advisory Committee and Members of this Council at various stages. The suggestions received have been incorporated in the Bill as far as practicable. On the whole, the new regulatory system is user-friendly and can better meet the operational needs of the industry. This will help to encourage the industry to comply with the relevant requirements.
In addition, with the proposed one-stop licensing authority for regulating the use of special effects materials for the production of entertainment special effects, many of the more cumbersome regulatory measures under the existing system will be streamlined, thus enhancing efficiency in the production of films, television programmes and theatrical performances in Hong Kong. The proposed licensing system for special effects operators will help to build up a pool of locally qualified practitioners who will practise their trade safely. This is conducive to enhancing the professional expertise of the local special effects operators as well as safety in the production of entertainment special effects. Furthermore, we believe that the new regulatory system will enhance Hong Kong's attraction as a venue for location shooting involving the production of entertainment special effects.
Madam President, the Entertainment Special Effects Bill strikes a balance between the operational needs of the industry and the protection of public safety. It also contributes to the healthy development of the local film and entertainment industry in the long run. To enable the industry to produce more creative entertainment special effects in a safe manner under a new regulatory system that is user-friendly and in line with their needs as soon as possible, I appeal to Members to consider the Bill at the earliest opportunity and to render your support to it.
End/Wednesday, February 23, 2000