HC Deb 13 July 1960 vol 626 cc1380-1
38. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Postmaster-General how much advertising has been broadcast by the Independent Television Authority during peak hours in recent weeks; and whether he will make regulations under subsection (4) of section four of the Television Act, 1954, to enforce a maximum amount of six minutes advertising in any hour.

Mr. Bevins

The Authority tells me that for the month of June the average amount of advertising between 7.0 and 10.0 p.m. was 6.8 minutes. The daily average was 4.6 minutes. The answer to the second part of the Question is "No".

Mr. Mayhew

Is the Minister aware that the decision of the Authority to bring down the amount of advertising to 6½ minutes in an hour will be warmly welcomed by viewers? Does he recall the assurance given in Parliament when the Act was passed that the maximum would be 6 minutes? Why is the figure now to be 6½ minutes instead of 6? Further, why was not this regulation enforced years ago when the Act came into force?

Mr. Bevins

My understanding is that the maximum allowed by the I.T.A. at the moment is 8 minutes in any one clock hour, and that is being progressively reduced to 7 minutes and then to 7½ minutes towards the end of this year. As the hon. Gentleman well knows, my responsibility in this matter is simply to see that the amount of time given to advertising is not so great as to detract from the value of the programmes. One must take a balanced view of these matters. The implications of this question go very wide. That is why I hope that the hon. Gentleman will await the statement I am making at the end of Questions.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that very specific undertakings were given in the House by his predecessor and other members of the Government during the passage of the Act? Is he not aware that we were told that advertising would never equal more than 6 minutes in any hour? Now that has been spread over the 24 hours so as to get 8 minutes in some hours and very little in other hours, the 8 minutes being always at the time when the advertisements will bring the greatest revenue? The Postmaster-General must have some responsibility to the House in this matter.

Mr. Bevins

I do not agree that the assurances given by my predecessors to the House were quite so specific as the right hon. Gentleman indicates.

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