HC Deb 02 February 1955 vol 536 cc1067-9
6. Mr. C. Hughes

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what progress is being made towards improving the reception of the British Broadcasting Corporation's Home Service in Wales.

13. Mr. Watkins

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he will consider allowing listeners in mid-Wales to pay a reduced licence fee for radio reception in view of the fact that they cannot hear their own Regional Service because of interference.

Mr. Gammans

The problem of improving reception of the Welsh Home Service is really a matter for the British Broadcasting Corporation, who are doing their best to find a solution. As the hon. Members no doubt know, the trouble is caused by interference from a station in the Soviet Zone of Germany, which operates on the same wavelength as the Welsh Home Service. All our efforts to get the interference stopped at the source have so far failed.

Since the early autumn, the B.B.C. have opened four low-power transmitters in Wales and have also introduced a special technical process at their main Welsh transmitters; all this should have considerably reduced the number of listeners suffering from interference. In addition, the Corporation have examined virtually every other possibility of completely avoiding the interference. I am assured by the Corporation that they would be pleased to meet the hon. Member for Anglesey, and any of his colleagues from Wales in order to discuss the whole situation.

The interference is largely felt during the hours of darkness and should steadily diminish as the days lengthen. By the end of the year, even if no remedy has been found meantime on the present medium-wave service, the new very high frequency station at Wenvoe should be in operation and should give a good service to approximately four out of every five listeners in Wales.

My noble Friend cannot accept the suggestion of the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Watkins) that the amount of the licence fee should depend upon the quantitative or qualitative use of the radio.

Mr. Hughes

I appreciate the comprehensive reply the Minister has given and the suggestion about a deputation, but could he say whether there would be any objection to the deputation taking their own technical advisers with them to meet the representatives of the B.B.C.? Could he say whether the possibility of another wavelength—for example, the Third Programme wavelength—being used for transmissions to the Welsh Home Service has been explored?

Mr. Gammans

I think the suggestion of the hon. Member for taking technical advisers along is an excellent one; there would be no objection at all. As regards the use of the Third Programme wavelength for Welsh transmissions, that is a matter which they could discuss with the B.B.C.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Third Programme reception in Wales is almost as bad as the reception of the Home Service? Does the hon. Gentleman realise that the whole of North Wales will be completely out of the V.H.F. region?

Mr. Gammans

I do not think it will be completely outside, but that is a matter which can be discussed with the B.B.C.

Mr. G. Roberts

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Welsh Members came in a deputation to him a few weeks ago and that a number of undertakings were given to them, but that very little improvement, if any, has obtained in Wales from the point of view of reception? May I press him to make this a political issue? Is it not perfectly clear that the Government must press this with energy on the Governmental owners of the other stations concerned?

Mr. Gammans

This is a very difficult question, as I think the hon. Member will discover when he discusses it with the B.B.C. I would point out that the guilty party in this affair is the station in the Soviet Zone of Germany. Those are the people who create the interference.

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