Hong Kong broadcasters air Beijing-approved ads

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HONG KONG -- Beijing-approved "public interest" adverts have begun running on local TV and radio stations in Hong Kong. With 10 months to go before the territory reverts to Chinese rule, an advertising campaign has been launched to publicize nominations for a Selection Committee. The committee will, among other tasks, be responsible for choosing a provisional legislature to replace the current legislative body, which will be disbanded in June 1997. The current government position is opposed to the provisional legislature, saying it is illegal.

The adverts will run until September 14, when nominations close, on both Cantonese and English language channels of terrestrial TV broadcasters ATV and TVB; on government broadcast radio channel, RTHK Radio One and Radio Three; Commercial Radio's CR1 and Quote AM; and Metro Plus. The TV advertising spots have been widely criticized as being dull. Set against a blue-tinted Hong Kong skyline, words detailing the nomination process are scrolled up. The voice-over, which has been lambasted for its Mainland accent, reads out the words.

Hong Kong's secretary for Broadcasting and Culture, Mr Brian Chau Tak-hay, denied that the adverts infringed the editorial integrity of Hong Kong stations. The official government position is that the advert falls within established parameters for cooperation with bodies appointed by Beijing to oversee the hand-over. These parameters are that the adverts do not undermine the authority of the current Hong Kong government, they do not affect civil servants' morale, and they are consistent with the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. The adverts do not say that one of the Selection Committee's tasks will be to pick a new legislature.

Copyright July 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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