Live cinema broadcast: up close and personal experience


Experience the stunning 3D effect of the superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo displaying his trademark ‘Tomahawk’ free kicks in the live broadcast of the FIFA World Cup matches hosted in South Africa.


Admire the unbreakable serve of the world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic on a wide cinema screen of dozens of feet.


Enjoy the sensational live performances of the Japanese idol group AKB48 or the rock star L’Arc~en~Ciel up close and personal.


Up close and personal

Spoil yourself with the comfort of a sofa chair.  Book your tickets at home on the internet.  For the price of a cinema ticket at only HK$180 to $300, you may now experience the closest encounter with your performing idols, an opportunity formerly exclusive for the audience in the front rows at the Johannesburg stadiums for the World Cup or at the Osaka Dome at high price costing over one thousand dollars or even a few thousand dollars each.


What’s more, you will be spared the fuss of a long-haul flight to Tokyo, South Africa or London.  Right at a Hong Kong cinema, you may savour the world’s best events in music, football or tennis.


Special permission for live cinema broadcasts

Live broadcast shows have been beaming into Hong Kong cinemas since June 2010.  Back in 2010, the cinema trade approached the government for special permissions to broadcast live the FIFA World Cup matches in South Africa.  Under the existing legislation, licensed cinemas are only allowed to show films.  As live broadcasts are not exhibition of films, special permissions are required to show football matches at cinemas.  With the concerted efforts of various government bureaux and departments, a special permission was granted in time for live cinema broadcasts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.


Fast track process for straightforward cases

Since then, the various bureaux and departments (including the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB), the Intellectual Property Department, the Hong Kong Police, the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, the Fire Services Department, the Buildings Department, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority, and the Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit) started to review the handling of live broadcast applications, such as introducing a standard application form and streamlining the vetting process for special permission applications.  A ‘fast-track process’ scheme with simplified application procedures for straightforward cases was eventually drawn up.


Under the new process, applications not involving structural or layout change of cinemas only need to seek comments from the HAB.  Referrals to other relevant departments are no longer necessary.  Applicants are simply required to submit to the FEHD an application form with a signed guarantee undertaking to comply with all the obligations set by various departments as stated in the form.


Shorter application time enabling the trade to seize business opportunities

Under the ‘fast track process’, the time required for processing and approving a live broadcast application can be shortened by 12 working days from 20 to 8.  Since the introduction of the new process on 27 June 2011, the FEHD has received more than 70 applications up to the end of June 2012.  The application process has been running smoothly.


Subsequent to the operation of the new process for one year, the relevant bureaux and departments reviewed and further streamlined the ‘fast track process’ for sustained improvement.  As a result of the further streamlining, the processing time was shortened from eight to four working days.  Following a two-month pilot run  starting from 1 July 2012, the further-streamlined ‘fast track process’ was formally implemented in September 2012.


The cinema trade is content with the efficiency and effectiveness of the ‘fast track process’.  The live broadcast business is estimated to generate a potential annual revenue of about HK$20 million to the trade.


New form of entertainment for audience

The new process has enabled the cinema trade to seize new business opportunities.  At the same time, the public is also provided with new and exciting entertainment experience.


Apart from 3D live broadcasts of World Cup matches, we have also seen live broadcasts of Wimbledon tennis tournaments and Japanese pop stars’ concerts over the past one and a half years.  The cinema trade points out that the ‘fast track process’ is not simply a business facilitation measure.  It will also provide Hong Kong youngsters with opportunities to learn more about foreign culture if cinemas screen live cultural events.  For instance, opera houses in New York, London and Germany have arranged classics like The Magic Flute, Carmen and The Phantom of the Opera to be screened live across Europe, the US and Canada since 2006.  In Hong Kong, tickets for cultural events such as Cantonese operas performed by Lung Kim-sung are well sought after.  Disappointed fans who fail to grab coveted tickets will surely find live broadcast arrangements with a good alternative.  A dazzling live show in complete surround sound and bigger and sharper images places Hong Kong viewers right in the middle of the actions of world-class events.  For the mere price of a cinema ticket, this kind of show is now available for their viewing.  It is simply big value for money!


This feature article is prepared by the Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit of the Financial Secretary’s Office.


October 2012