§ 4. Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Postmaster-General if he will give a direction to the British Broadcasting Corporation, under Section 14(4) of the Licence and Agreement, to refrain from transmitting on its second television network programmes of mass appeal which, its opinion, would discourage commercial television companies from maintaining their present number of programmes with a specialised appeal.
§ Mr. Bevins
Programmes are a matter for the B.B.C. In authorising B.B.C. 2, however, the Government's overall purpose pronounced in the first White Paper on Broadcasting, was that the viewer should have a choice of different types of programme including more programmes of an educational or informative nature, or drawn from regional sources. The B.B.C. has made it plain in a number of public statement that it is 894 planning the use of the two networks on this basis. The I.T.A. is, of course, under a duty to see that the programmes it broadcasts maintain a proper balance in their subject matter.
§ Mr. Allaun
Whilst very much welcoming that Answer, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he agrees that it will give the commercial companies an incentive to discontinue such specialised programmes as they put on at present if they know that they will inevitably be competing with mass appeal programmes on the other channels? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that this is a real problem which needs to be solved?
§ Mr. Bevins
I understand what the hon. Gentleman has in mind, the danger that if the B.B.C. were to put out two popular programmes they might have the effect of detracting from the balance of the I.T.A. transmissions. I do not think that there is any serious risk of the B.B.C. manipulating its programmes in this way, but I agree that this is a situation which requires watching.