Following is the full text of the speech by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr Henry Tang, at the Public Broadcasters International (PBI) Annual Conference
today (November 11): (English only)
Messrs Redekopp and McEwen, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good Morning. I am very pleased to be here for the opening of the PBI Annual Conference 2002. Broadcasting is one of the most exciting areas under my portfolio. It is a very powerful and influential institution of our society and one area that the community has very high expectations of.
Media, including broadcasting, is about communication among people. Communication is based on mutual respect. Respect for the freedom of speech and of the press. Respect for people's right to be informed and to speak their minds. Respect for editorial independence and professionalism. Respect for privacy. And most importantly, respect for human beings as esteemed individuals. Public broadcasting is about communication FOR the people. And public broadcasters have the additional obligation to respect the diverse needs of the public.
There has been much hype about digitisation and media convergence. True. Technology enriches and enhances the means of delivery. We have progressed from the age of radio to the era of multimedia, terrestrial to cable and satellite broadcasting, and are now migrating from analogue to digital platforms. However, no matter how advanced technology is, it is the substance of the message that matters. I am sure when the Canadians browse the CBC website, the Australians tune in to ABC and the British people watch digital BBC TV channels, they are not testing the technology but expecting good taste entertainment, informative and impartial news and commentaries, as well as programmes meeting the needs of the minority viewer groups. What truly distinguishes a public broadcaster from its commercial counterparts is the public expectation that a public broadcaster will serve those underserved by commercial broadcasters.
Hong Kong is a hustle and bustle city. Busy because people compete and collaborate freely in a conducive business environment with a level-playing field in one of the safest and most stable cities in Asia. Noisy because we are a community with a plurality of views. Ideas and opinions flow without barriers, and with great speed, within and outside Hong Kong. This is possible because of our belief in basic freedoms and the rule of law, which are enshrined in our Basic Law; our strong fundamentals, including our state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure and readiness in adopting new technology.
There have been heated debates on media ethics in Hong Kong recently. In this context, I fully support the idea that public broadcasters should perform the important benchmarking function for the media. They are the role models for responsible and accountable players in the media industry, adhering to the highest ethical, professional and programming standards. The public expects nothing less from our public broadcasters, and rightly so.
In these two days, you will exchange ideas on a wide spectrum of public broadcasting issues, ranging from financing strategy to technological development. We will have much to learn from you. I hope you all distinguished broadcasting professionals from different corners of the world will also have the chance to feel the pulse of this dynamic city; and to hear the views on some local issues from different angles, interests and socio-economic strata expressed via newspapers, radio, television as well as the excellent productions and website by RTHK, the public broadcaster of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is Asia's World City. It has been the host for many international events. It is the second time that PBI Annual Conference is held in Asia and the first time in Hong Kong. I wish you all a very enjoyable and fruitful conference.
End/Monday, November 11, 2002