HC Deb 11 July 1946 vol 425 cc572-4
68. Mr. Collins

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he is aware that, for the majority of West Country listeners, reception of the light programme of the B.B.C. is very poor; that, except in Plymouth and Bristol, they will not receive the third programme at all; and if he will state how many of the disenfranchised 6 per cent of the population, mentioned in Command Paper 6852, paragraph 41, live in the West Country and the proportion that will have to rely entirely on the Welsh programme for their Home Service.

Mr. Burke

Reception of the Light Programme should be satisfactory throughout the West Country on 1,530 metres, and in certain areas also on 261.1 metres. Reception of the third programme should be satisfactory over a large part of the present West Region, although unfortunately, owing to the shortage of wavelengths, satisfactory reception in Devon and Cornwall will not be possible, except in an area round Plymouth.

The 6 per cent. of the population which will not receive the Home Service, is made up of 5.3 per cent. outside the present West Region, and only 0.7 per cent. within that Region. 9.2 per cent. of the population of the present West Region will need to turn to the Welsh Home Service for satisfactory reception.

Mr. Collins

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, according to my information, the Light Programme is very badly received West of Taunton, disgracefully in Wiltshire, and not at all in Exeter, and that, if this proposed amalgamation from Cornwall to the Potteries is proceeded with we shall be without these broadcasting facilities at all?

Mr. Stephen

Is the Minister prepared to offer any reduction in the licence fee to people in those parts of the country where the reception is poor?

Mr. Burke

The object of increasing the licence fee is in order to improve the service.

Mr. Beechman

Will the Minister bear in mind the fact that a most important service of West Region is the considerable assistance given to the farming community in the far West, whose needs, both in regard to agriculture and horticulture, differ so widely from the needs of the agricultural community in the Midlands?

Mr. Burke

I do not think the, farming community will suffer as a consequence of the changeover. The change is absolutely essential because of the shortage of wavelengths.

Mr. Douglas Marshall

Will the Minister consider consulting with the Cornish people before allowing this change to take place?

69. Mr. Collins

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he will publish coverage maps showing how the proposed merger of the Midland and West Regional programmes will affect reception of the Home Service in the West Country.

Mr. Burke

I am having copies of maps prepared, which I will send to the hon. Member.

Mr. Collins

Would it be possible under the Lucerne plan, to consider the ques- tion of using ex-enemy wavelengths which are not now in use?

Mr. Burke

That is a question of international agreement.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Does the Minister realise that the fact that the B.B.C. is a monopoly imposes on him the duty of ensuring that listener opinion is fully consulted before these mergers are made, and will he say what possible justification there is for the policy which has been adopted to merge these two great Regions without consultation?

Mr. Burke

There was need to get, somewhere, somehow, an extra wavelength for the European Service, and, after very careful consideration, it was discovered that the least deterioration for the least number of people would be caused by bringing both Midland and West Regions in one wavelength, supplemented by another.

Mr. Marlowe

Do not all these questions and problems indicate the existence of the necessity for an inquiry?

72. Mr. Goronwy Roberts

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General where the new Regional headquarters will be situated after the proposed amalgamation of the Midland and West Regional programmes; and if he will state the names of the officials who have been selected for the posts of Regional Director and Regional Programme Director.

Mr. Burke

I am informed by the Corporation that the administrative headquarters of the new combined region will be at Birmingham, but that there will also be a Bristol director. I understand that the Corporation will announce the names of the officials at an appropriate time.

Mr. Wilson Harris

Is the Minister aware that there is nothing in common between Birmingham and the West Country, and that Birmingham will probably dislike the association as much as the West Country certainly will?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

Does the Minister really think that a Bristol director can really represent the whole of the West County in this matter? Are not the interests of Bristol very different from those of Cornwall and Devon?

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