HC Deb 04 March 1959 vol 601 cc442-3
33. Mr. Grey

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware of the alarm caused to viewers when a special announcement was made by the news broadcaster on Friday night on Independent Television; and if he will make a direction under Section 9 (2) of the Television Act, 1954, requiring the Authority to refrain from broadcasting in fictional programmes passages purporting to be news announcements.

39. Mr. M. Stewart

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the offence given to the public by the screening on Independent Television on 20th February of the item entitled "Before the Sun Goes Down," and if he will use his powers under Section 9 (2) of the Television Act, 1954, to direct the Independent Television Authority to refrain from broadcasting fictitious news broadcasts of a sensational nature.

Mr. K. Thompson

I am aware of the concern caused, and I would refer the hon. Members to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin) on 26th February, 1959.

Mr. Grey

Is the Assistant Postmaster-General aware that this form of panic viewing has shocked everyone who watched it? People in the North East, who have had a new station for only a couple of months, wonder whether this is the type of thing they are to have. Will the hon. Gentleman either see to it or issue a direction to I.T.A. that his kind of thing will not happen again?

Mr. Thompson

There is no need to issue a direction. The Authority has issued instructions to the programme company that this shall not be done. That seems to me to deal with the situation.

Mr. M. Stewart

If the use of fictional news broadcasts for the purpose of sensation is to be permitted, an incident might occur in which very many more people would be seriously misled than happened on this occasion. Does not the rather silly vulgarity of this episode suggest that, in general, the Authority's judgment is not to be trusted?

Mr. Thompson

I fear the hon. Gentleman misunderstood my probably inadequate language. "The Authority has issued instructions that this shall not be done again."