§ 16. Mr. Hobson
asked the Postmaster-General if he will withdraw the licence from the Independent Television Authority in view of repeated and calculated breaches of the Act in presentation of news and films.
No, Sir. I do not accept the sweeping and unsubstantiated allegations in the second part of the Question.
§ Mr. Hobson
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that both the I.T.A. and the production companies are bringing the law into contempt? Secondly, is he 2093 aware that the films shown are not predominantly British in accordance with the demands of the Act, and that there is further evidence that there has been alteration in the presentation and the timing of the news, and that this was one of the reasons why there was the trouble over the resignation, or threatened resignation, of the news editor? This is contrary to the spirit and terms of the Act, and the right hon. Gentleman cannot really take refuge in a pure negative.
I submit, Mr. Speaker, that wide and general allegations of that sort serve no useful purpose. I shall be very happy to see that specific complaints or allegations are inquired into, but the hon. Gentleman has made so wide and sweeping a generalisation that I cannot usefully comment on it except to say that it is unjustified.
§ Sir R. Grimston
Will my right hon. Friend make it clear that there will be no return to monopoly as implied by the Question?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Will the Postmaster-General ensure that, while the House is making provision for the existence of commercial television, the companies and the I.T.A. conform with the provisions of the Act? Will he ensure that there is no repetition of what happened in Birmingham?
The Act lays fairly and squarely on the Independent Television Authority the responsibility in the sphere which has been under question. If there are complaints as to how that responsibility is being carried out, I will see that the Authority looks into them. However, these generalities serve no useful purpose.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is aware that in the course of the opening at Birmingham the rules were absolutely left aside and there was a double amount of advertising. Was that with his approval?
It is not my responsibility to monitor programmes. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, that is so. If the right hon. Gentleman has specific complaints to make about what happened at Birmingham on a certain day and will give me details, I will see that they are conveyed to the I.T.A. for examination; but generalities serve no useful purpose.