HC Deb 03 February 1958 vol 581 cc788-91
7. Mr. Darling

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many television films have recently been exported; what subjects are covered by these films; and whether he will estimate the future prospects of this export service.

14. Mr. Anthony Greenwood

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made with co-ordinating the production and distribution of films for television in the Commonwealth and in foreign countries.

Dr. Hill

The Central Office of Information, on behalf of the overseas Departments, is carrying out the plans outlined in paragraph 21 of Cmnd. 225. Many new services were introduced in the last months of 1957, and others will start between now and the spring.

British official television material is now shown regularly by some 150 television stations in the United States and regular programmes are provided for Canada. Australia, television stations in Colonial Territories, and for the Middle East and Central and South America. A television news service is provided for 20 territories in the Commonwealth, the Colonies, Latin America, the Middle East, the Far East, and other parts of the world. Full co-operation by the documentary, news and television industries in the United Kingdom has made this rapid expansion possible. I expect that, by midsummer 1958, not less than an hour a week of this officially-supplied British material will be reaching most territories now served.

As to commercial export of T.V. films, I understand that the British Broadcasting Corporation, the programme companies of the Independent Television Authority, and certain other film-producing companies are supplying suitable films to television stations overseas.

Mr. Darling

That is a very pleasing report. May I ask the Chancellor whether any obstacles exist to stop further developments? Does his Department have any difficulties, for example, over Customs duties or anything like that?

Dr. Hill

I am not aware of any such difficulties. In general, this programme is proceeding well.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

While welcoming the statement the right hon. Gentleman has made, may I ask him whether he is taking steps to encourage the kind of arrangement which was recently made between one programme contracting company and the Soviet Union which resulted in an exchange of material of this kind?

Dr. Hill

Such arrangements are, of course, a matter for the programme companies and the B.B.C. as their own endeavour, but I do welcome the growing development of this independent activity in regard to the sale or exchange of material for showing throughout the world.

8. Mr. Darling

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what consultations he has had with the British Broadcasting Corporation and television programme companies regarding the sale of television films overseas and the content of such films; and whether he is satisfied that these export arrangements will help to present Great Britain and British institutions and British people to overseas audiences in a manner that will be generally approved.

Dr. Hill

The Government's policy in regard to the use of television by our information services was set out in paragraphs 16–21 of Cmnd. 225. Discussions on the practical details to give effect to it have taken place between the Central Office of Information and the broadcasting bodies. The Government strongly welcomes the B.B.C.'s and the programme companies' and the Independent Television News companies' own arrangements on commercial lines for their placing of television film material overseas. In addition, film material suitable for overseas showing under official auspices has been acquired from the B.B.C., from programme companies and from I.T.N. This combination of commercial sale and exchange with the Government's own arrangements to send television films abroad is, I believe, working well.

Mr. Darling

Is the Chancellor aware—it is obvious from his previous Answer that he must be—that many countries are developing the export and dissemination of television as part of their national publicity? Although the Chancellor has given figures of the number of films, he has not given any indication of their content. Some of them must be entertainment films, but is he satisfied that the proportion of reasonable documentaries, documentaries of the kind we should approve generally in this House, is satisfactory?

Dr. Hill

In so far as the material acquired by the Government and sent out under official auspices is concerned, I am satisfied that its content is appropriate. In so far as the independent commercial sale or exchange of material by the B.B.C. or programme companies is concerned, that is not within my responsibility.