Community & Education Hong Kong Law & Crime

Not so finger-lickin’ good: TVB threatens legal action after being fined for indirect advertising

TVB’s management has said that it will be filing for judicial review in a “fight for principles on behalf of the whole industry” after the television station was fined HK$150,000 by the Communications Authority for a segment involving actors giving out fried chicken during its award-giving ceremony.

The watchdog said that it had received 15 complaints from the public relating to the programme – aired on December 23, 2015 – saying that “the brand logo of a fried chicken chain was conspicuously and blatantly shown, which was gratuitous, obtrusive to viewing pleasure, without editorial justification, and amounting to indirect advertising for the concerned brand”. During the segment, which was a little over a minute long, the logo of the fast-food chain – a sponsor of the show – was clearly shown, with various medium to close-up shots.

fried chicken segment

The segment involving fried chicken. Photo: Stand News via TVB screencap.

TVB CEO Mark Lee Po-on said on Wednesday following a stakeholder meeting that it “deeply regretted the Communication Authority’s statement”, while assistant general manager Desmond Chan Shu-hung questioned whether the public authority body was limiting freedom of expression and interfering with editorial independence, Apple Daily reported. “Do they discriminate against fried chicken?” he asked.

The Communications Authority told Ming Pao that they respected creative freedom and editorial independence and that they deal with all cases objectively in accordance with the TV Programme Code and the TV Advertising Code. It said that this has been the 21st time TVB violated regulations on advertising and product placement in television programmes, and in four serious violations the station has been fined from HK$60,000 to HK$150,000 – despite numerous reminders sent to the company by the communications watchdog.

kfc tvb

Photo: TVB screenshot.

The statutory body said that when they handle complaints, the standards they adopt are those of the audience. It also said that the core of the problem was not the fact that the promotion of fried chicken or pizza took place during the programme, but whether it was justified editorially and whether it affected the audience’s enjoyment of the show.

The Communications Authority added that it will keep an eye on trends in society, and review and update the regulations from time to time so as to meet the changing needs of the public. It said that TVB could consider accepting the watchdog body’s invitation to submit proposals for amendments to regulations, but should TVB choose to commence legal action, it would also respond accordingly.

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Not so finger-lickin' good: TVB threatens legal action after being fined for indirect advertising