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LCQ2: Broadcast of local sports events on free TV channels
     Following is a question by the Hon Luk Chung-hung and a reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, in the Legislative Council today (June 21):


     Some members of the sports community have relayed to me that all along, local free-to-air television channels seldom broadcast local sports tournaments, which is not conducive to the development and promotion of local sports. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows the number of local sports tournaments broadcast live or recorded, and the number of hours for which such tournaments were broadcast, by each local free-to-air television channel in each of the past three years;

(2) whether the authorities have plans to take measures to encourage the various local free-to-air television stations to broadcast more local sports tournaments, and produce more programmes relating to local sports; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) as Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) is the only public service broadcaster in Hong Kong, whether RTHK has plans to broadcast more local sports tournaments (e.g. the Hong Kong Premier League, the Hong Kong Basketball League A1 Division matches and the Hong Kong Games) through its digital terrestrial television channels; if so, of the details and timetable; if not, the reasons for that and the difficulty involved?


     After consulting the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB), the Office of the Communications Authority and Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), I reply as follows:

     In respect of overall policy, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has all along been actively promoting the development of sports in Hong Kong. As regards promoting local sports, the Government has all along been adopting a three-pronged strategy to develop and promote sports to realise the vision of "promoting sports for the community, training elite athletes for competition and making Hong Kong a centre for major sports events". The Government encourages public participation in sporting activities, with the aim of building a sporting culture within the community. At the same time, the Government nurtures potential junior athletes by providing them with a high-quality training environment and integrated support, helping them to develop to their full potential and to achieve excellence in international major sports competitions. With a view to promoting sports and raising the profile of Hong Kong internationally, the Government helps sports organisations host major events. In recent years, the Government has allocated substantial additional resources to strengthen the three-pronged sports policy, promoting sports to the community at large and unearthing the sports potential and interest of youngsters. Hong Kong athletes have excelled in major international sports events and our squad as a whole has grown stronger.

     My substantive reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:

(1) At present, both Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) and HK Television Entertainment Company Limited (HKTVE) provide programmes relating to local sports events on their free television (TV) channels, for example, "Shatin Dragon Boat Races 2017", "Sports World", "Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2017", "Come on HK", "Hong Kong Sevens 2017", "UCI Track Cycling World Championships", "HK Open Badminton Super Series", "About Sports", etc. In the past year, the two free TV broadcasters broadcast 36 programmes relating to local sports events for a total of approximately 280 hours. Fantastic Television Limited (Fantastic TV) just formally launched its service on May 14, 2017 and has yet to broadcast programmes relating to local sports events on its free TV channel.

     In addition, in 2016-17, RTHK produced sports-related TV programmes such as "Running Hong Kong", "Body Rocks!" and "Within and Out" etc, which were broadcasted on RTHK's TV channels for a total of 32 hours.

(2) The domestic free TV licence stipulates that a licensee shall inform, educate and entertain the audience and provide a diversified and balanced service to meet the different needs of the community. TVB, HKTVE and Fantastic TV are currently required under their free TV licences to provide a minimum amount of positive programmes, including news, arts and culture programmes, and programmes for children and senior citizens, etc. As for other programmes, to uphold the editorial independence and market-driven approach in the regulation of free TV services, the Government and the Communications Authority (CA) consider that the programme scheduling and editorial decisions should be deferred to the licensees.

     In 2014, the CA conducted a territory-wide survey to collect public views on the domestic free TV programme services. The results showed that nearly 84 per cent of the respondents considered the quantity of sports programmes sufficient or had no comment. Only 16 per cent of the respondents found it insufficient. Therefore, the CA considers that the present arrangement of not requiring a free TV broadcaster to broadcast sports programmes should be maintained.

     If the CA receives public views on the broadcasting arrangements for sports programmes of free TV broadcasters, the CA will convey them to the relevant broadcasters for consideration, urging them to take into account public views in formulating programme strategies, so that their broadcasting services will better meet the expectations and needs of the public.

     Furthermore, according to information provided by the HAB, Hong Kong hosts a number of major sports events accredited under the "M" Mark system every year. In the course of preparation and organisation, the Government will encourage the organisers to cooperate with the local media, including free TV broadcasters and online media etc., in arranging live broadcast to enable more members of the public could watch major sports events held locally. In 2016, among the 12 "M" Mark major sports events held, nine of them were broadcasted by free TV broadcasters.

     To support Hong Kong athletes' participation in the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics, the HAB produced a series of TV programmes and Announcements in the Public Interest (APIs) (including five 30-minute episodes of "Hong Kong Heroes", 28 one-minute episodes of "Get Set, Road to Rio"; and an API to promote Hong Kong athletes) in 2016, with very positive response from the public. This year, the HAB will roll out a new series of TV programmes to introduce the endeavors of various serving and retired athletes, the importance of the transmission of sports culture, and the relevant policies of the Government in supporting athletes and sports development all along since the reunification.

(3) RTHK is tasked to fulfill the role of the public service broadcaster in Hong Kong. According to the RTHK Charter, RTHK's digital terrestrial TV (DTT) service aims to provide quality TV services to address the inadequacies of commercial TV broadcasters, and to provide a diversity of TV programmes to serve a broad spectrum of audiences while also catering for the needs of the minority interest groups.

     With the launch of RTHK's DTT service in January 2014, RTHK has been gradually increasing the output of TV programmes per year, and has been producing sports-related programmes all along. In 2017-18, RTHK will produce a brand new reality TV show "Sports For All", which will invite elite athletes to introduce various types of sports to different age groups and encourage the whole community to participate. Since RTHK's DTT service is still in the development stage, RTHK will study the feasibility of providing more services having regard to the prevailing circumstances and resources. This includes that at present, RTHK is actively exploring the matter of broadcast of local sports events.
Ends/Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:58
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