HC Deb 31 July 1957 vol 574 cc1251-2
17. Mr. Roy Jenkins

asked the Postmaster-General whether his attention has been drawn to the breakdown of negotiations between the Television Writers' Council and the independent television programme companies; and what action he proposes to take, in view of the fact that the behaviour of the companies in treating written material sold to one of them as being automatically sold to all of them is a contravention of Section 5 of the Television Act.

22. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that the Independent Television Authority is in breach of its statutory duty under Section 5 (2)of the Television Act, 1954, in so far as it is allowing programme contractors to set up a cartel preventing competition between them for the rights in television scripts; and what action he is taking.

Mr. K. Thompson

I understand that this dispute between the Television Writers' Council and the programme contractors has now been brought to the notice of the Independent Television Authority. Section 5 of the Television Act does not apply and my right hon. Friend has no power to intervene.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that this widely representative body has been trying to reach agreement with the programme companies for two-and-a-half years, and that it has become increasingly clear that the programme companies are opposed not so much to any particular terms of the agreement as to the principle of the agreement as such? Is not the one principle on which they appear to stand that written material sold to one programme company is automatically, without any further payment to the author, the property of all the other companies, a clear breach of Section 5 of the Act which says that the companies shall compete?

Mr. Thompson

I am advised that it is not in contravention of Section 5 of the Act which does not apply to this aspect of what the hon. Gentleman has referred to as competing. In any event, we had better await whatever developments there are from the meetings which probably will follow from the attention of the Authority having been drawn to this dispute.