Saturday, November 02, 2013

The Ethics of TV Licenses

Three companies applied for new free TV licenses.  Among the 3, Ricky Wong’s Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) has done the most work in preparation and was widely expected to be granted one of the licenses.  When the government decided to turn them down, while awarding the other 2, it caused a huge uproar. The furor has continued for 2 weeks now, with no sign of subsiding. The government was reeling, with many officials distancing themselves from the decision. It is not a pretty sight. 

It just happened that I am teaching (together with 3 colleagues) a subject on Information Ethics this semester.  Just 5 days ago, on Monday, I used this incident as a case study in my lecture to illustrate a number of issues.  One point of contention is that our chief executive used the so called “principle of confidentiality” for the Executive Council as an excuse to not explain why HKTV was turned down.  We discussed in class whether this was a justifiable reason for withholding information from the public.  

Then we discovered that our student union had invited Ricky Wong to come to speak to the students this evening (Friday), at the exact time when we were supposed to have a tutorial.  This presented a fantastic opportunity for us to listen to one of the major protagonists.  So we cancelled our tutorial class - actually we moved the class to Logo Square, where the talk was to be held.  

The place was packed with people, mostly students.  One of the students in our class, a Korean, actually asked him a question.  I wanted to tell Ricky Wong that between his company and the government, they provided us a great lesson in Information Ethics, and civic engagement.  But I didn’t get a chance. 

My wife found me in a photograph that appeared in the Apply Daily web site.  Such a thing is not always an honour - at least in the opinion of my daughter A.  But this time I do not mind.  


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