Date
12 November 2019
Britain's Andy Murray in action with France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert during a doubles match at the recent Wimbledon Championship. Hong Kong authorities are facing calls to promote greater access to live sports broadcasts. Photo: Reuters
Britain's Andy Murray in action with France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert during a doubles match at the recent Wimbledon Championship. Hong Kong authorities are facing calls to promote greater access to live sports broadcasts. Photo: Reuters

Why HK needs to push live sports broadcasts, including from CCTV

Most people would agree that it is important for a society to provide an atmosphere where young people can express themselves or indulge in activities that take their minds off troubling issues.

It is such thinking, for instance, that prompted Hong Kong’s former British colonial rulers to launch an initiative for trendy community balls in the city following the 1967 leftist riots. The move was aimed at allowing the young people to divert their energy and emotions to other things, and focus less on the irksome civic disturbances.

Indeed, arrangements for young people to channel their defiance and let off steam are important elements when it comes to maintaining social stability.

As far as school education is concerned, art, culture and physical education lessons are good and viable channels through which the young people can let off steam.

Unfortunately, there is a disparity between the rich and poor children and teenagers when it comes to participating in or watching sports events.

Recently I was in the United Kingdom when the 2019 Wimbledon Championship was underway.

During the trip, I noticed that giant screens were put up in public areas like town squares so as to allow people in the neighborhood to get together and watch the games live.

Even in mainland China, viewers can often watch games of major international sports tournaments such as the World Cup soccer for a low fee or even for free.

State broadcaster China Central Television network (CCTV) has been among the entities that was offering such facilities.

But when it comes to Hong Kong, the vast majority of citizens here can only watch such games through subscriptions to Pay TV networks.

That is a major shortcoming for the city, and one that needs to be addressed. 

Authorities should realize that allowing people free or cheap access to live sports broadcasts will foster greater public interest in sports.

To become interested in sports, one must have the opportunity of understanding them by being able to watch them on free-to-air TV channels or on pay TV channels at a low price.

One can become involved in watching or even participating in playing the sports once the interest is developed.

Given this situation, I would also like to put forward one suggestion: the authorities should at least ensure that people will be able to watch the CCTV programming more easily, focusing on improving the access to such programs for people living in public housing estates.

That will ensure that the average viewer can enjoy live broadcasts of major international sports events for free, while also helping people to get to know about the mass media culture in the mainland.

This suggestion, I agree, may fuel concerns about “mainlandization” of media in Hong Kong.

Still, I would argue that as Hong Kong practices “one country, two systems” and is known for a highly diversified and pluralistic culture, the citizens should be given as many choices as possible when it comes to free television broadcasts.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 27

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Dr. Hui Wai-tin, Adjunct Principal Lecturer, Education University of Hong Kong