Yes to free TV channels

Yes to free TV channels

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With just two free-to-air channels, people have little choice.
With just two free-to-air channels, people have little choice.
Photo: Jonathan Wong/SCMP
ATV recently aired a show opposing the government's move to issue new free-to-air television broadcasting licences. Once again a debate has been sparked about whether there is a need for more than two free television channels to the public.

Some people may say no, but in the interest of a healthy media environment, I say there should be more such channels.

More stations mean a wider range of views. The local newspaper industry - although it can be rather one-sided at times - is proof of that.

The different views and journalistic styles of our newspapers give citizens more options about issues.

At the same time, a good media environment requires competition. By having to compete with other media outlets, TV stations and newspapers have to make sure they create products that people want to see and read. Currently that is not the case in Hong Kong's free-to-air television industry. TVB and ATV hold similar political views, and they are often mocked as CCTVB and CCATV for their self-censorship in news reporting. Critics say the city's two free-to-air TV stations are biased and distort facts.

Meanwhile, the quality of local entertainment productions has been slipping as well. Most shows copy ideas from foreign soap dramas and contain excessive violence and erotic scenes. Yet people have no other choices unless they turn to cable TV. But many of us cannot afford to pay the high fees charged by private television companies.

With several more free channels, Hong Kong's television industry may have a chance to thrive once again.

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