Update: 21 December 2006
Pursuant to section 3(3) of the Broadcasting Ordinance (Cap.562), the Broadcasting Authority (BA) approved the following revisions to the Generic Code of Practice on Television Programme Standards (TV Programme Code) relating to the provisions for accuracy.
a) a standalone new provision be introduced to Chapter 9 of the TV Programme Code to extend the requirement for accuracy of the factual contents in programmes to four other types of programmes, viz financial programmes, children’s programmes with educational purposes, programmes dealing with medical and health issues and contests; and
b) to extend the provisions on impartiality in Chapter 9 of the TV Programme Code to include programme segments dealing with matters of public policy or controversial issues of public importance in Hong Kong in factual programmes.
The revisions approved by the BA are promulgated by notice in Gazette on10 November 2006. A copy of the updated sections of the captioned Code are shown below and the revised edition of the Code will be available on both BA's and HKCE's website.
Generic Code of Practice on Television Programme Standards
Chapter 9 Accuracy, Impartiality and Fairness
GENERAL PRINCIPLE FOR ALL CATEGORIES OF SERVICES
1. News programmes should offer viewers an intelligent and informed account of issues that enables them to form their own views. The licensees should ensure that news is presented with accuracy and due impartiality. Impartiality does not require editorial staff to be unquestioning; nor is it necessary for all sides of an issue be devoted the same amount of time. But it requires reporting to be dispassionate and give viewers an even-handed account of events.
SPECIFIC APPLICATIONS FOR DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF SERVICES
DOMESTIC FREE AND DOMESTIC PAY TELEVISION PROGRAMME SERVICES
1A. The licensees shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the factual contents of news, current affairs programmes, financial programmes, personal view programmes, documentaries, programmes adopting an investigative style of reporting, children’s programmes with educational purpose, programmes dealing with medical and health issues, and contests are accurate.
2. The licensees must ensure that due impartiality is preserved as respects news programmes and any factual programmes or segments thereof dealing with matters of public policy or controversial issues of public importance in Hong Kong (except personal view programmes which are dealt with separately under paragraph 17 below). Factual programmes are non-fiction programmes which are based on material facts. They can take the form of news, current affairs programmes, personal view programmes, documentaries and programmes adopting an investigative style of reporting.
3. Due impartiality requires the licensees to deal even-handedly when opposing points of view are presented in a programme or programme segment.
Balance should be sought through the presentation, as far as possible, of principal relevant viewpoints on matters of public importance. Programmes or programme segments under concern should not be slanted by the concealment of facts or by misleading emphasis.
4. In achieving due impartiality, the term “due” is to be interpreted as meaning adequate or appropriate to the nature of the subject and the type of programme or programme segment. Due impartiality does not mean that “balance” is required in the sense of equal time or an equal number of lines in the script being devoted to each view, nor does it require absolute neutrality on every controversial issue. Judgement will always be called for by the licensees.
5. A programme host should encourage the widest possible airing of views. He/She should also be alert to the danger of unsubstantiated allegations being made by participants in live programmes. Where necessary, the programme host should correct the factual errors to the best of his/her knowledge.
Impartiality Over Time
6. Although it is desirable, it is not always possible for principal opposing viewpoints to be reflected in a single programme or programme segment. Sometimes a series of programmes or programme segments may be considered as a whole. At other times, a narrower range of views may be appropriate within individual programmes or programme segments. This is an issue which calls for editorial judgement based on particular circumstances. In achieving impartiality over time, it is not always necessary to ensure that in a single programme or programme segment all sides have an opportunity to speak.