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TV ad rules to be reviewed

September 04, 2017

Provisions in the codes of practice governing indirect advertising and product or service sponsorship will be reviewed to relax the regulatory regime, the Communications Authority announced today.


The review decision came amid discussion in the community about product placement in domestic free television programme services, and takes into account views collected through an opinion survey and focus group discussions.


Research undertaken in May last year found the key principles underlying the regulation of product placement in Hong Kong are generally in line with those in major overseas jurisdictions.


It showed that in many places advertisements have to be recognisably separate from programmes and product placement is subject to specific requirements, including prohibition of placement in certain types of programmes and direct encouragement to purchase products and services within programmes, as well as the need to preserve programme integrity and viewing pleasure.


While these requirements are similar to those in Hong Kong, the authority said there is room for relaxing the rules.


An opinion survey covering 1,500 interviews, as well as six focus group meetings, comprising four sessions for the public, one for Television & Radio Consultative Scheme members, and one for the creative industry and media professionals, were conducted earlier this year on the subject.


The results indicate the public generally does not find product placement in free TV services objectionable, but consider it necessary to regulate the employment of product placement in free TV programmes.


Major factors for consideration include whether the presentation is natural and whether it is obtrusive to viewing pleasure.


Both the viewing public and the industry tend to support a relaxation of the existing rules governing product placement to enhance the competitiveness of free TV services and facilitate the overall development of the industry.


The authority said it will formulate proposals for amending provisions in the codes and engage licensees in the process of the review, with a consultation to be conducted on proposed amendments.


In conducting the review, a balance will be struck between protection of the viewing public's interests and the provision of a more conducive business environment, the authority added.


Click here for the executive summary of the survey results and for summaries of the views expressed in the focus group discussions.