§ 39. Sir D. Robertson
asked the Postmaster-General how much longer the people who live in Sutherland will have to wait for a reliable sound broadcasting service; and, as the British Broadcasting Corporation has now overcome the technical difficulties involved, if he will authorise the Corporation to go ahead with its development plans, including television, in north-west Sutherland.
§ 47. Mr. Malcolm MacMillan
asked the Postmaster-General what progress has been made in overcoming technical problems causing delay in providing television and very high frequency services in the Western Isles and the north-west Highlands coastal area; and when he will authorise the expenditure by the British Broadcasting Corporation to provide these services.
§ Mr. K. Thompson
The B.B.C. tells me that it has the needs of the northwestern Highlands coastal area, including Sutherland, and of the Western Isles in mind. These areas will be considered when it plans the next stage of its satellite development, but it is too early for it to say when further stations will be built.
§ Sir D. Robertson
Does the Assistant Postmaster-General realise that there has been a national sound broadcasting system for about forty years but that we are still without reliable sound reception? Is it not high time that we got a service similar to that provided in other parts of the country, and is he aware that the B.B.C. says that there are no difficulties except cash?
§ Mr. Thompson
There are, of course, a lot of technical problems involved, as I have already mentioned, in getting television and radio programmes to remote areas, and the actual planning of the chain of stations has to be taken in an order dictated by technical considerations. It is certainly not the intention of either the B.B.C. or the Postmaster-General to do less than justice to that part of the country.
Does not my hon. Friend agree that the lack of these amenities is definitely recognised as a cause of depopulation in these areas, and can he say whether or not the B.B.C. has altered its planning programme for the future in this area by putting satellite stations in the south rather than including these parts of Scotland in the programme?
§ Mr. Thompson
I know that the B.B.C. is very much aware of its responsibility in this matter and is trying to get ahead with a very large programme as quickly as it can.