Update: 30th April 2007

 

1) At its meeting on 21 April 2007, the Broadcasting Authority (BA) approved the updates of two sets of competition guidelines, viz. "Guidelines to the Application of the Competition Provisions of the Broadcasting Ordinance" and "Competition Investigation Procedures". These guidelines serve to explain how the BA will apply and enforce the competition provisions under the Broadcasting Ordinance (Cap. 562) which deal with anti-competitive conduct of television programme service licensees.

2) The BA endorsed the recommendations of the Codes of Practice Committee (CPC) to revise the Generic Code of Practice on Television Programme Standards, the Generic Code of Practice on Television Advertising Standards, and the Radio Code of Practice on Advertising Standards. The meeting agreed to:

  1. relax the requirement for the minimum duration of any segment within a programme on domestic free television programme services;
  2. allow advertising of horse race betting authorized under the recently amended Betting Duty (Amendment) Ordinance 2006 (Cap.108) on television and radio, subject to the same conditions and time restrictions for advertisements for Mark Six Lotteries and football betting; and
  3. remove an obsolete requirement for the domestic free television programme service licensees to submit a report on the use of product/service sponsorship in their drama programmes and the public's response by December 2003.

 

Below are the details for the aforesaid revisions:

 

I) Revisions to the "Competition Investigation Procedures" and "Guidelines to the Application of the Competition Provisions of the Broadcasting Ordinance"

The existing competition guidelines issued in 2001 explains how the BA will apply and enforce the provisions under sections 13 and 14 of the Broadcasting Ordinance (BO) (Cap.562), which deal with anti-competitive conduct of television programme service licensees. After five years of implementation, the BA considers it opportune to update the guidelines to take into account its implementation experiences and international best practices in order to provide more practical guidance and transparency to the industry.

The main revisions include:-

  1. elaborating on how the statutory competition test (i.e. whether a licensee's conduct has the purpose or effect of preventing, distorting or substantially restricting competition) in a television programme service market under sections 13 and 14 of the BO would be applied;
  2. updating the factors the BA will take into account and the analytical framework when applying the competition provisions. The latter comprises three stages: market definition, assessment of market power or dominance of licensee; assessment of the competition impact of the conduct under examination in a television programme service market; and
  3. updating the performance targets for carrying out the various stages of competition complaint investigations in the light of experience. The BA aims to complete full investigations within 12 months of receiving a complaint.

The BA has consulted the licensees on the revised competition guidelines which would take effect on 11 May 2007 upon gazettal.

II) Revisions to the Generic Code of Practice on Television Programme Standards, Generic Code of Practice on Advertising Standards, and Radio Code of Practice on Advertising Standards

 

(A) Programme segment duration

The BA accepted the recommendations of the Codes of Practice Committee (CPC) to revise the Generic Code of Practice on Television Programme Standards by removing the requirement for the duration of each programme segment on domestic free television programme services to be not less than 10 minutes for all programmes, with the exception of dramas and feature films. As the viewing pleasure of latter types of programmes depends much on continuity, the revised provisions provide that the minimum programme segment duration of dramas and feature films should not be less than 7 minutes. The BA considered that the relaxation would enhance flexibility in presentation and production of programmes, especially for programmes comprising natural independent segments, and hence enhancing the diversity in programme choice for viewers.

(B) Horse race betting advertisement

The BA also approved the proposed consequential amendments to the provisions on advertising of betting products and services in the Generic Code of Practice on Television Advertising Standards (TV Advertising Code) and the Radio Code of Practice on Advertising Standards to allow advertising of horse race betting authorized under the newly amended Betting Duty (Amendment) Ordinance 2006 (Cap.108) on television and radio subject to the same conditions and time restrictions presently applicable to advertisements for Mark Six Lotteries and football betting, including: -

  1. such advertisements are prohibited during the hours between 4:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. each day on domestic free television programme services and radio services or at times when television or radio programmes target young persons under the age of 18; and
  2. such advertisements could only target the adult audience and should not unduly exhort the public to bet or mislead one's likelihood of winning.

(C) Removal of an obsolete provision

The last recommendation of the CPC is the removal of an obsolete provision in the TV Advertising Code. Following the relaxation for allowing sponsorship of products/services featured in television drama programmes in June 2003, the BA required the domestic free television programme service licensees to submit a report on the use of product/service sponsorship in their drama programmes and the public's response at the end of six months after the promulgation of the related provisions, i.e., by December 2003, in order to monitor the possible impact on viewers' experience on the locally produced dramas on domestic free television programme services. The BA approved the recommendation, having considered that the licensees were generally in compliance with the relevant requirements, and that viewers have generally accepted the sponsorship formats.

All the revised provisions will take effect on 4 May 2007 upon gazettal.

 

Please refer to either BA’s or HKCE’s website for the updated Codes.