Following is a question by the Hon Ma Fung-kwok and a reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, in the Legislative Council today (December 12):
The Hong Kong Coliseum (HKC) in Hunghom is a major venue for large-scale sports events, entertainment programmes, pop concerts and conventions. Some hirers of HKC have relayed to me that although the Government has carried out large-scale renovation works in HKC for a number of times, the equipment acquired is outdated and unable to meet their needs. They have also pointed out that the terms and conditions for hiring HKC and the related policy, which have been adopted for years, are rigid and outdated. Besides, the daily rent for HKC's Arena is $55,100 or 20% of the gross ticket proceeds on that day (whichever is higher), which is among the highest in the world, with numerous other costly charges such as charges for visual recordings of performances, and hirers are also required to make extra payment for broadcasting sponsors' advertisements in HKC. On the other hand, the Stadia Office has the right to broadcast during hirers' events advertisements which it has solicited. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it has formulated criteria and procedures for determining the renovation projects needed to be carried out in HKC and the equipment to be upgraded or acquired; if it has, of the details, including whether venue users from the performing arts sector and the sports sector, etc. need to be consulted so as to ensure that the equipment in HKC meets users' needs; if consultation needs to be conducted, of the details; if consultation needs not be conducted, the reasons for that;
(b) whether it has planned to review the terms and conditions for hiring HKC and the related policy to ensure that they are kept abreast of the times and facilitate users in organising activities; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(c) of the criteria based on which the levels of HKC's venue rental and various charges are set; whether promoting the development of the performing arts and sports industries is one of such criteria; if not, of the reasons for that; whether it reviews HKC's various charges on a regular basis; if so, of the details?
Opened in 1983, the Hong Kong Coliseum (HKC) is currently the largest indoor multi-purpose stadium in Hong Kong. It can also be used as a performing venue for large-scale events such as celebratory events, pop concerts, and entertainment and cultural activities.
In almost three decades since the opening of the HKC, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) has reviewed the terms and conditions of the HKC's hiring policy, and upgraded and enhanced its facilities in the light of users' feedback collected through different channels, with a view to providing a quality venue for the sports sector, the entertainment and performing arts sector as well as the public.
The reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:
(a) Apart from regular minor maintenance and upgrade works, the HKC underwent a major renovation for six months in 2008-09 since its opening, to mainly dovetail with the staging of the basketball and volleyball competitions in the HKC during the 2009 East Asian Games hosted in Hong Kong. In planning the renovation works, the LCSD had consulted sports associations which held major sports events in the HKC, including the Volleyball Association of Hong Kong, China and the Hong Kong Basketball Association. Taking into account the views of the disabled, the number of wheelchair seats in the venue had been increased. As for the entertainment and performing arts sector, the LCSD collected their views through regular customer liaison meetings and operation meetings attended by regular hirers of the HKC, including representatives from the presenters of pop concerts. Upon the requests of the sports sector as well as the entertainment and performing arts sector, the HKC replaced the video broadcast and electronic scoreboard system for enhanced video display, renovated the VIP Lounge, changing rooms, dressing rooms and function rooms, and provided broadband internet connections, etc. In addition, the HKC also provided additional warm-up areas for athletes and standard facilities for certain sports events such as doping control room, media room and enhanced the lighting system in line with the requirements of sports events. Ancillary facilities for the public such as seats, foyer, staircases, platforms and wheelchair platforms were also upgraded to provide a more comfortable environment for the enjoyment of the audience.
The LCSD has always observed the standards for international sports events and consults sports associations in acquiring sports equipment for the HKC. For performing arts events, it is the common practice that each performance has its own unique stage design and creative elements. The HKC provides basic ancillary facilities so as to give flexibility for the presenters to plan their own stage design for creating special effects for their performances. This mode of operation is widely accepted by the entertainment and performing arts sector.
(b) Since its opening, the HKC has updated the terms and conditions of hire to meet the needs of the sectors and development of society in a timely manner. The current 23rd version of the terms and conditions of hire was revised in 2008.
In response to the requests of the sectors and the audience, the terms and conditions of hire have been updated recently, including the enhancement of measures to protect intellectual property rights, the arrangement for hirers to choose the ticketing system, as well as a substantial increase in the number of consignment tickets for hirers, etc.
The existing venue management policy of HKC stresses on both the flexibility for presenters in organising activities, as well as balancing the requirements among different users. The venue management has maintained close liaison with the relevant parties to meet the needs of hirers as far as practicable. The venue management will make every effort to facilitate the organisation of events, provided that public safety requirements (e.g. the stage and auditorium are designed according to fire escape regulations; activities are arranged properly to avoid public disorder and accidents, etc.) are fulfilled. The venue management is always willing to communicate with presenters and to review the terms and conditions of hire in a timely manner so as to cater for the needs of the sectors. The venue management will continue to hold regular customer liaison meetings and operation meetings to collect the views of users.
(c) The Government makes reference to the charging schemes of similar venues in the local market as well as those adopted by major overseas venues when setting the charging criteria for the HKC. The hire charges of the HKC have three parts, namely (i) basic venue hire charges i.e. a daily minimum charge or 20% of the gross ticket proceeds on that day; (ii) reimbursable charges collected in accordance with the actual use of services (e.g. the provision of security guards, ushers, stage equipment, sports equipment, sound services, seating arrangement, cleaning services, etc); and (iii) rights fees (e.g. television broadcasting, audio/visual recording, display of commercial advertisements, location filming, etc). Levying hire charges as a percentage of the ticket proceeds as mentioned in item (i) is a charging policy widely adopted in similar venues around the world. It has the merit of being flexible in reflecting the market condition, especially for commercial activities, thereby upholding the "user pays" principle. The charging criteria for sports and performing arts events are basically the same, but as the ticket proceeds of most sports events are not high, some presenters are only required to pay the basic venue hire charges. The LCSD will sponsor the hire charges for the venue for certain major sports or celebratory events such as the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix and the International Military Tattoo, so as to promote sports and the performing arts.
Regarding item (ii), the reimbursable charges are collected to cover the actual expenses incurred in the provision of services for the hirers whilst reflecting the market condition.
For item (iii), in order to promote sports events, concessions on individual items of the HKC will be given to sports events. For example, given that television broadcasting helps promote sports events, the right fees of television broadcasting for sports events are lower than those for non-sports events. The charges for sound services for sports events are also lower than small scale concerts or variety shows.
The above charging mode takes into account both the market condition and the HKC's basic operation cost.
The LCSD examines from time to time the hire charges and the related policy of the HKC in accordance with the needs of the sectors as well as the social development. The Department is now conducting a review on a flexible approach for hiring the VIP Lounge and the adjustment to the rights fees. The review is scheduled for completion by the middle of next year.
In fact, the basic hire charges and other charges of the HKC have not been raised despite the inflation and the increase in the actual expenditure since 1997 (except that the hire charges of the VIP Lounge have almost been doubled after the renovation project in 2008). The usage rate of the HKC in the past three years was nearly 100%, which reflects that the current operation and the charging mechanism can meet the practical needs of the market. Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:00