Television station TVB will provide sign language interpretation for its Cantonese news broadcast on its English-language Pearl Channel starting July 3, 2018, the Communications Authority announced on Tuesday.

The authority said that increasing demand from persons with hearing impairment for the provision of sign language was noted during TVB’s licence renewal, which enjoys a free domestic television programme licence granted by the government.

File photo: In-Media.

A working group set up by the Communications Authority accepted TVB’s proposal to provide sign language and traditional Chinese subtitles on its English-language Pearl channel rather than its Chinese-language Jade Channel, as the “coverage and penetration” of the two channels were the same.

TVB will be required to provide on its Pearl Channel sign language interpretation and traditional Chinese subtitles for a news programme in Cantonese for no less than 15 minutes a day. The sign language interpretation provided is also subject to an accuracy requirement for news programmes in accordance with the Generic Code of Practice on Television Programme Standards, which states that TVB – as a free television licensee – should make reasonable efforts to ensure that the factual content of news programmes are accurate.

The channel will be given nine months to make preparations.

Photo: Hong Kong Sign Language screenshot.

25 individuals and organisations in connection with the hearing impaired, including the Hong Kong Society for the Deaf, said in a joint statement that it welcomed the Communications Authority’s decision “because the arrangement will allow those with hearing impairments to watch news programmes and gain access to information on current affairs without barriers.”

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.