Monday, June 12, 2006

ITB Panel meeting on the proposed establishment of the Communicatiosn Authority

On bahelf of Internet Society Hong Kong Chapter and Hong Kong Information Technology Federation, I attended the meeting of the Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting of the Legislative Council today, and presented the views of our organizations on the "proposed establishment of the Communications Authority". Our position paper can be downloaded from here.

While we support the merger of the Broadcasting Authority and Telecom Authority, we believe that the consultation for the relevant ordinances should start as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the administrative merger of the two organizations to take place first. Competition and consumer safeguards should be put into the regulatory guiding principles of the new regime. Content control should also be as light-handed as possible, instead of the inconsistent and subjective regime of the Broadcasting Authority now.

Most of the discussions in the Panel meeting, however, focused on the appointment of the Communications Authority (some including we proposed that there should be a nomination or confirmation process that involves the stakeholders, rather than just letting the Chief Executive make the appointments solely on his own), and whether the Chairman of the Authority should be an honorary, part-time post or a paid, full-time role. Members of the public which presented in the meeting (e.g. CSL and TVB) and some of the Legco members present (especially the Hon Ms Emily Lau) believed that the Chairman should be a full-time role.

This is one issue our organizations did not thoroughly discuss before, but personally I think this is a good idea for the Chairman to be appointed and "hired" on a full-time basis -- so as to ensure his or her independence and to improve corporate governance by separately the roles of the chair and the chief executive (director general).


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