【Folklore Studies of Film and TV 015】Lau Tin-chi:Should the license of ATV be renewed?

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It is said that the chance of renewal of ATV license is very small.

Hong Kong citizens wonder whether the Chief Executive and the Executive Council will renew the license of ATV.

The free televisions in Hong Kong are broadcast by way of atmospheric radio wave. It is already confirmed that atmospheric radio wave belongs to the public. Mass media that make use of atmospheric radio wave are subject to Hong Kong Ordinances, i.e., it is not just that the license holder has to operate its media according to Hong Kong ordinances, but that it has to use this public instrument for the good of the Hong Kong citizens.

Rules have to be followed and social responsibilities have to be shouldered in a place of rule of law. A conscientious media should place its obligation to the public above all other interests.

Many people criticize ATV for producing not enough drama programmes and for its low ratings. But these are not the most important considerations as far as renewal of license is concerned. Non-drama educational and cultural programmes as produced by ATV are also tv contents. Some of the public affairs programmes and documentaries produced by ATV are not bad.

Lack of diversification of programmes, low-cost productions, and repeated rebroadcasts are not the main reason why the license of ATV should not be renewed.

The major reason is that ATV has made an unforgivable mistake as a mass media – it has unfaithfully reported important news!

I am referring to the high-profile report of “death of Jiang Zemin”! The death news of a China political figure that will attract attention of the whole world, including Hongkongers! But the sponsor of ATV got round professional editors and publish this important piece of news before checking it carefully. This is an unprecedented act of imprudence!

As the authority managing atmospheric radio wave on behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government and Hong Kong citizens, The Office of the Communications Authority should look into the matter immediately. And if the suspicion is proved, it will not be too severe a punishment to revoke the license of ATV. A mass media making use of atmospheric radio wave has actually spread false information in such an irresponsible way! It has not only duped the audience but also lost its integrity and credibility as a mass media. What value of existence does it still have?

Neither a fine, nor a demerit, nor personnel replacement can dispose of the matter. The Government is not supposed to indulge deceit on the part of a “family” mass media.

This big scandal has fallen into oblivion again. (Another one is Chief Executive, CY Leung, having accepted a enormous sum from an Australian company.) This is a proof of significant devolution of Hong Kong since the handover.

Concerning whether to renew ATV license or not, the Chief Executive has to consider only one factor – Does ATV still have credibility? Renewing the license of a television station that no longer has any credibility will not convince the public. Even if it has money, human and material resources, it should not be allowed to exist in Hong Kong society!

The same mistake must not be made again!

(Translated by Chapman Chen)


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