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Public views sought on television and radio codes of practice

The following is issued on behalf of the Communications Authority:

     The Communications Authority (CA) today (September 20) issued a consultation paper to invite views from the public on the proposed amendments to the Codes of Practice governing television and radio programmes and advertising. The consultation will last for three weeks until October 11.

     There are three major proposals:

(a) Placement of commercial references within programmes on channels acquired for direct retransmission on domestic free television programme services (domestic free TV)

     The existing Generic Code of Practice on Television Programme Standards (TV Programme Code) and Generic Code of Practice on Television Advertising Standards (TV Advertising Code) require clear distinctions between advertisements and programmes, and restrict the placement of commercial references within programmes. On the other hand, channels acquired for direct retransmission on domestic pay (domestic pay TV) and other licensable television programme services (other licensable TV) are exempted from the application of these rules subject to certain conditions. Such exemption does not apply to domestic free TV. In view of the development of digital television broadcasting, domestic free TV can now provide multi-channel services which may include channels acquired for direct retransmission. As these channels are retransmitted live, licensees encounter difficulties in taking measures to ensure strict compliance with the relevant provisions. It is proposed that the exemption granted for channels acquired for direct retransmission on domestic pay TV and other licensable TV be extended to domestic free TV services, subject to additional conditions taking into account the pervasiveness of domestic free TV, the advertising time limits which are only applicable to domestic free TV, and the interests of the public.

(b) Identification requirements for television advertisements adopting a programme style

     The existing TV Advertising Code allows the broadcast of an advertisement adopting a programme style so long as it remains clearly identifiable as an advertisement or is flagged as such in a clearly legible manner. Nonetheless, there is no specific provision on how the flagging would be considered clear. The new presentation styles of television advertisements in recent years have rendered viewers unable to distinguish clearly whether advertisements adopting a programme style are programmes or advertisements. Against the above background, it is proposed that further identification requirements on advertisements presented in a programme style should be imposed.

(c) Applicability of aggregate advertising time limits to promos for advertisements under the Television and Radio Codes of Practice

     The existing TV and Radio Advertising Codes define "advertisement" or "advertising material" and provide that the terms do not include material for the promotion of the licensee's station and/or programme services. This may lead to ambiguity as to whether promotion for television advertisements or radio advertisements is advertising material counting towards the applicable advertising time limit or is promotion for programme services excluded from the definition of advertising. To enhance clarity of the provisions governing advertising materials, it is proposed that the Codes be amended to make it clear that all promos for advertisements should be regarded as advertising materials and should be counted towards the advertising time limits applicable to the respective broadcasting services.

     Details of the above proposals are available at the CA's website at

     Members of the public are welcome to give views and comments on the proposals on or before October 11 by post to the Communications Authority Secretariat, 39/F, Revenue Tower, 5 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong; by fax to 2507 2219; or by email to¡@.

     For enquiries, please email to or call the Licence Administration Section 2 at 2594 5751.

Ends/Thursday, September 20, 2012
Issued at HKT 17:42


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