One Jan 20, the Broadcasting Authority (BA) issued a strong advice concerning RTHK’s television programme “Hong Kong Connection”(鏗鏘集). There were very strong reactions from the local blogsphere against BA's advice.
The BA’s explanations were published in the press release:
1. the programme was biased towards homosexuality, promoted homosexuality and contained discriminating elements;
2. it was unsuitable for broadcast at the scheduled time and exerted a bad influence on children and youths;
3. it was unfair to Christians as a whole as the reference to opposition from a Christian in the programme gave viewers a misleading impression that all Christians were irrational;
4. it did not mention the undesirable aspects of homosexuality such as AIDS; and
5. it did not contain a warning caption.
The BA considered that the programme was presented in the form of a documentary and that the contents of the programme about homosexuality and the legalization of homosexual marriage were controversial in many societies including Hong Kong. The programme was therefore a factual programme dealing with matters of public policy or controversial issues of public importance in Hong Kong and should be subject to the impartiality rule under the relevant code. However, the programme presented only the merits of homosexual marriage and featured only the views of three homosexuals on the legislation of homosexual marriage, rendering the presentation unfair, partial and biased towards homosexuality and having the effect of promoting the acceptance of homosexual marriage.
The BA also considered the programme unsuitable for broadcast within the Family View Hours as children and young viewers watching the programme might have no knowledge of homosexuality and might be adversely affected by the partial contents of the programme if parental guidance was not provided.
RTHK was strongly advised to observe more closely paragraph 2 of Chapter 2 (family viewing policy), paragraph 1 of Chapter 7 (likely effects of all material shown on television on children), and paragraphs 2 and 3 of Chapter 9 (impartiality) of the Generic Code of Practice on Television Programme Code.
There were very strong reactions from the local blogsphere on the issue:
Probably, the programme just upset some noble Christian creeds.
As a media worker, Florence worries that the advice is a threat to freedom of speech:
A reader, little rain, posted his / her very long and well written complaint letter to BA at inmediahk.net's comment:
This issue reminds me of the painful fight for racial equality in other countries decades ago. Back then in countries like the US and the South Africa, the majority (the whites) also thought that the discriminatory treatment of the blacks was rightful. People who advocated racial equality were condemned. The voices of the blacks were nowhere to be heard. The change from racial discrimination to racial equality was a long fight.
Changes, as always, are painful. Accepting novel ideas are painful, admitting old views as obsolete and inapplicable are not easy. It takes years of education, and communications is the first step. Sadly speaking, in the past years, Hong Kong has not moved forward in addressing sex orientation discrimination.
Hong Kong takes pride in its ability to embrace diversity, it is very painful to see that in this issue, our regulator who is supposed to be impartial is depriving the society of hearing about voices of the minority. It is painful to see how a regulator can act so brashly upon 22 individual complaints. I do not criticize people who make the complaints, it is absolutely understandable that some individuals are less informed and less familiar about this topic and may find such discussion uncomfortable, what surprised me was the ignorance of the regulator in making this decision.
I am very very disappointed by HKBA’s decision, I strongly believe this is a mistaken one and I urge the Obudsman to investigate thoroughly and to restore justice to RTHK.