The Role of Academic Research in Media Policy Making: The Case Study of Hong Kong

Mei Ning Yan, Hong Kong Baptist University

Ideally, a government consults all stakeholders before devising an important policy. In the process, academics may make meaningful contributions by researching what kind of policy and any detailed arrangements of such policy, that would be in the best interest of the public. Unfortunately, this is not the norm in Hong Kong. It seems that the making of broadcasting policy, particularly arrangements and changes arising from convergence, has been largely influenced by industry players in which contributions by academics are minimal in most cases.

In Hong Kong, the most comprehensive review of broadcasting policy was conducted in the mid-1980s. In February 1984, the Governor-in-Council asked the Broadcasting Review Board (BRB) to recommend the broadcasting policies to be adopted by the colonial government at the time. This was done in anticipation of the expiration of the territory’s television and radio licenses in the late 1980s. The BRB conducted its review and submitted a report in mid-1985. The Hong Kong government quickly implemented two major recommendations of the BRB: 1) revamp the regulatory mechanism for the territory’s broadcasting industry and establish the Broadcasting Authority (BA) to serve as the regulator for the broadcasting industry; and 2) invite interested parties to launch a cable television service. Nonetheless, the colonial government did not take up some other important but sensitive recommendations made by the BRB, such as 1) turning Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), a government department, into an independent public broadcaster; and 2) setting up a pilot scheme to test the feasibility of community radio stations. The reluctance of the Hong Kong government to adopt these two recommendations has had serious repercussions in recent years. (…)

The full essay online:

IJoC – International Journal of Communication 2 (2008)

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