Special Finance Committee: HK$1.4 million spent on Policy Address promo, HK$2 million for monitoring Mainland opinion

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13th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) A recent disclosure to the Special Finance Committee revealed that the Hong Kong Government’s Information Services Department (ISD) allocated approximately HK$5.1 million for various promotional activities throughout the 2023-24 financial year.

The expenditure includes a substantial investment in a 60-second television spot for the Policy Address which alone cost HK$1.4 million.

The ISD has been actively engaging in crafting a positive public perception through meticulously produced promotional videos and audio clips for radio. The disclosed amounts include HK$1 million spent on public consultations and another HK$890,000 on a video summarising the government’s achievements in its first year. A further HK$709,000 was allocated to the ‘Happy Hong Kong’ campaign, highlighting the administration’s commitment to fostering a joyful community atmosphere.

Besides traditional media, significant resources have been channeled into monitoring sentiments on social media platforms. With an earmarked budget of HK$2 million for the 2024-25 period, the ISD is set to intensify its scrutiny of discussions pertinent to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on major Chinese social media networks such as Weibo, Xiaohongshu, and Douyin.

The government’s social media strategy includes the operation of several accounts that command considerable followings. The ISD manages the ‘Tamar Talk’ Facebook page and various other platforms, with the Weibo account alone attracting over 1.23 million followers. This is in sharp contrast to the ‘Tamar Talk’ Facebook page, which has a more modest following of 53,000.

The government employs advanced analytics tools and computer programs for online surveillance and also engages in manual analyses to integrate and assess the data. This is complemented by the potential use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to adapt and respond to the evolving landscape of digital discourse.