HC Deb 03 November 1954 vol 532 cc351-3
34. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what discussions he has had with the British Broadcasting Corporation regarding the allocation of wavelengths for a second British Broadcasting Corporation television programme.

Mr. Gammans

My noble Friend is aware of the plans for a second B.B.C. television programme in their 10-year development plan of 1953, but in view of the technical and other considerations involved it is unlikely that a decision will be reached for some time.

Mr. Mayhew

But would the Minister agree that the B.B.C.'s standards of political impartiality are at least as high as those of the "Daily Mail" and the "Evening News," and that its standards of taste are no lower than those of the "Sunday Dispatch" and "Weekend Mail"? Will he give some encouragement to the B.B.C. in future, instead of merely to the Tory Press barons he has put in charge?

Mr. Gammans

The hon. Gentleman has made a statement which has given him much pleasure. I have no further answer to give the House than the one I have already given.

Mr. Callaghan

As a second wavelength is not to be provided for some time, is the Postmaster-General trying to preserve a monopoly for the Rothermere Press for the next General Election?

Mr. Gammans

The B.B.C. has been informed that its 10-year development programme is under consideration, and as soon as a decision has been reached about whether or not it will have a second programme the necessary decision about wavelengths will be given.

Mr. Woodburn

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the decision to allow the I.T.A. to use the masts of the B.B.C. is likely to retard the opportunities of the B.B.C. for a second programme?

Mr. Gammans

I gather not at all. It is purely a friendly arrangement between the B.B.C. and the I.T.A.

Mr. H. Morrison

Has not the whole of the Government's case upon this matter rested on the argument that there should be alternative television programmes? Are we now to understand that the Government are forbidding the B.B.C. to have an alternate television programme for the time being? Are thay holding up the B.B.C. in order that they may give preference to their friends, the Kemsley Press and the "Daily Mail"?

Mr. Gammans

If the right hon. Gentleman will read the 10-year development programme he will see that the B.B.C. does not expect to be in a position to start its second programme before 1957.