TVB challenges fried chicken fine, lawyer says it intrudes on freedom of expression

Some may disapprove of KFC’s greasy chicken buckets, but the right to eat the hormone-fed poultry on TV must be defended, according to TVB, which is using a “freedom of expression” argument to appeal a fine for indirectly advertising The Colonel’s food during a live broadcast.

In a judicial review heard yesterday at the High Court, lawyers for Hong Kong’s biggest broadcaster argued against a HK$150,000 (US$19,100) the network received in 2015 for serving up KFC on air during an awards show, reported Ming Pao.

The fine was handed down by the Communications Authority (CA), which held the segment had breached its advertisement rules as the US fried chicken company’s logos were prominently displayed on boxes handed out to young starlets on screen.

However, TVB senior counsel Gerald McCoy disagreed there was any fowl play.

McCoy said the audience have the right to be entertained and can choose whatever program they want to watch.

He said artists were told in the program to eat fried chicken to create a sense of comedy, and it was meant to entertain the viewers. (Because nothing is more entertaining than seeing women in their finery chowing down on some fried chicken…)

McCoy accused the CA of policing what was entertaining for the audience by fining TVB, and added that the authority’s decision interfered with the autonomy of the station’s scriptwriters, violated freedom of expression, and restricted the audience’s access to entertainment.

He argued that restrictions on indirect advertising affected the income of TV stations, adding that broadcast and advertising revenue fell by nine percent in 2015.

He also called for more well-defined rules over indirect advertising, adding that the CA does not have any clear-cut guidelines to regulate it.

He cited an incident in November 2015, when a TVB program showed female artists eating pizza from a Pizza Hut box, which was similar to the KFC incident but did not result in a fine.

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