Following is my submission to Hong Kong Broadcasting Authority in response to the public consultation regarding the Applications for Domestic Free Television Programme Service Licences in conjunction to my separate submission in Chinese：
Firstly, I need to strongly oppose the long-believed saying that "audience leads TV" paradox. In fact, in contrast, "TV leads audience" is what I long insist. Furthermore, the fact that contemporary top intellects from both the literal and scientific academic are kept luring to writing screenplays and seriously involved in the production American TV programs and episodes which, in turn, often turn out to be enjoying the highest ratings as well as most welcomed by public audience, it obviously testifies that American TV industry unanimously treasure and respect intellectual and culture. We can view this as one of the TV's contribution to the advent and well-kept of human culture.
Thus, in my view of screening and selecting one, or more applicants, viz., City Telecom (H.K.) Limited, Fantastic TV Limited (I-Cable) and HKTVE (PCCW Interactive), to be granted the Domestic Free Television Programme Service Licences, the following three (3) guidelines are what I believe BA should sensibly consider and adopt:
1. The granted Domestic Free Television Programme Service licensee while in the role as a TV operator does exhibit a culture vision for the good of Hong Kong people.
- Merely from the financial soundness figures the three applicants submitted without detail breakdowns, I don't see the operator-may-be has the culture vision or the international exposure to dictate Hong Kong viewers' cultural orientation.
- Nor the programmes proposed, which are nothing more than bundling all previous chargeable programmes in a package free to the new viewers to generate new revenue streams.
- Nevertheless, creativity in new TV programmes is not yet a yardstick in selection criteria.
- I also do not see from the three applicants the desire to lead and act as a pioneer towards the new era of the HK TV industry.
- The applicant when facing inevitable fierce competition from others should be trustworthy to response with a positive and constructive attitude, and not the opposite.
- While the new free TV operation certainly creates competition which is, of course, one of the goals to initiate the application, yet it is equally certain that the competition may possibly fall into a negative side whereas some of them may copycat and exaggerate the existing vulgar, clap trapping, sex and violent orientated programmes in order to compete, resulting further deteriorating the value and moral standards majority of Hong Kong people choose to believe.
- It is BA's utmost responsibility that the above scenario should it foster needed to be timely monitored in addition to providing guidelines to all players.
- Has the insight to recognize the technology impact and economic influence to the future of TV industry.
- Bolstering Hong Kong as an international city, as a Hong Kong-based content-provider and broadcaster, the applicant needs the insight of today's TV technology breakthroughs which can result, if they work hard enough, in a paradigm shift outside regional geographical limit to embrace the Chinese Diaspora.
- Watching free TV on mobile phones and pad computers is one of the many examples, not to mention the latest new marketing strategy Apple TV is pushing out in North America.
- Triggering from this, any Hong Kong TV operators should remind us that an inception of unprecedented local Hong Kong techno/business model will very likely be possible, with the mastery of the latest hardware and software technology.
Lastly, the scenario I indeed hate to see is that while BA is to assist the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the execution of its broadcasting policies, it finally settles in selecting one or more new Domestic Free Television Programme Service Licensee (s) which may likely not to whole-heartedly address Hong Kong people's "real" favorites, and worse yet, bolster carnivorous competition and operate in Neolithic technology.
Steven Lau (Writer∣Commentator)
Sep 8, 2010