HC Deb 23 November 1949 vol 470 cc345-6
21. Major Turton Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what advice he has given to the B.B.C. regarding the foreign countries to which broadcasts should be made; and whether he will discontinue the recently-inaugurated broadcasts to Israel in favour of broadcasts to the Baltic States.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Mayhew)

In accordance with the terms of the B.B.C.'s Licence and Agreement, my right hon. Friend has prescribed to the Corporation the countries to which overseas broadcasts are directed and the languages in which these broadcasts are made. The answer to the second part of the Question is, "No. Sir."

Major Beamish

Is it really more important to spend the taxpayers' money on broadcasting to Israel, a country of less than one million inhabitants, which is wide open to the Western world, than to broadcast to the three Baltic States, which are still recognised sub judice by His Majesty's Government and which are shut off completely from truth and Western civilisation?

Mr. Mayhew

I do not think these broadcasts are so easily interchangeable. I think the broadcasts to Israel have justified themselves and are being successful. Broadcasting to the Baltic countries raises a number of difficult technical questions, since the broadcast cannot be fitted on the relevant network easily.

Mr. Haire

Is my hon. Friend advising the B.B.C. to cut down the amount of time devoted to certain Western countries—for example, France—and to increase the amount of time devoted to Eastern Europe and Israel?

Mr. Mayhew

For the reasons I have given it is not easy to switch a broadcast from one country to another—for technical reasons—but I will certainly look into it.

Mr. Eden

While we understand the difficulties of switching—and may I say we welcome these broadcasts and think they do good?—could the Minister let us have in the Library or in some other way a list of the countries to which these broadcasts are now made and the times, which are employed?

Mr. Mayhew

If the information is not already available in the Library, I will certainly see that it is made available.