HC Deb 17 December 1963 vol 686 cc1030-1
21. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Secretary for Technical Co-operation what is his estimate to the number of radio sets in the world; what proportion of them he estimates to be capable of receiving the British Broadcasting Corporation transmissions; by how much he expects these figures to rise in the next five years; and what action he is taking meanwhile to increase the scale of British Broadcasting Corporation transmissions.

The Secretary for Technical Co-operation (Mr. Robert Carr)

The most recent estimate by the B.B.C. is that there were some 409 million radio receivers in the world in 1962, an increase of roughly 73 per cent. over the previous seven years.

It is not possible to make any worth while estimate of the proportion of sets capable of receiving B.B.C. transmissions. It is equally impossible to make a worth while estimate of the growth in the number of sets in the next five years.

There have been some modest increases in the hours of broadcasting in the B.B.C. s external services during the past year. But the most effective way of increasing the B.B.C.'s overseas audience is to make the B.B.C.'s signal much more audible, especially in Asia and Africa. We are, therefore, concentrating on a very substantial improvement in the B.B.C.'s transmitting facilities, both at home and overseas.

Mr. Mayhew

Does not the suggestion that there are about 20 million new sets a year coming into operation show that the importance and value of overseas broadcasting is growing all the time? Welcome as is the Minister's statement, may I ask whether he is aware that it does not match the opportunity here? Will the right hon. Gentleman take an imaginative look at the problem and increase the amount of broadcasting and the strength of the signals so as to make up some of the ground which we have lost to other countries in recent years?

Mr. Carr

The first priority, as I said to the hon. Member in the summer, is to make our broadcasts more audible. I have just come back from Asia and I am certain that this is the most important job to get on with. We have increased considerably expenditure on overseas broadcasting in the past few years, and I agree about its importance.