HC Deb 16 February 1967 vol 741 cc785-7
18. Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

asked the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the independent television programme companies' success in making and exporting colour programmes, he will reconsider his decision and allow them to be transmitted also for United Kingdom viewers.

20. Mr. Mawby

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that many foreigners are enjoying colour films made by British television companies; and when he will remove the restrictions that prevent their being seen by people in this country.

Mr. Short

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to my statement in the House yesterday morning.—[Vol. 741, c. 531.]

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

I think that the House and the nation will be glad that the right hon. Gentleman was able to make a statement, but I hope that he will not think, because he has given permission for the independents now to spend £30 million on extending a colour service in the UHF area, that it has yet been achieved or that he has given anything gratis to the nation.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must ask questions as other hon. Members do.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

Is the Postmaster-General aware of all that which I said in that supplementary question?

Mr. Short

This is a Government which gets things done.

Mr. Mawby

I think that the House as a whole will welcome the statement that the right hon. Gentleman made yesterday. Is he aware that speed is of the essence to ensure that the colour films which have been made over a long period of time by many of the contractors in this country and which at the moment are shown to foreigners will be able to be shown to British viewers at the earliest possible moment?

Mr. Short

Colour will start in the autumn of this year on B.B.C.2, and for a great part of the country on B.B.C.1 and I.T.V. in 1969.

22. Sir Harmar Nicholls

asked the Postmaster-General what estimates he has made of the extra revenue which will accrue to the British Broadcasting Corporation during 1967–68 as a result of the decision to charge a £5 licence fee for colour television; and what estimate he has made of the approximate cost to the British Broadcasting Corporation of providing a colour television service during the same period.

Mr. Short

As the service of colour television on B.B.C.2 will not start until late 1967, the revenue from the supplementary licence fees for colour television is unlikely to be significant during 1967–68, which is the year the hon. Gentle. man asked about. The B.B.C. tells me that its operating expenditure on colour television during that year will be about £500,000.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that he has done his homework in this and that the cost will be covered within the range he has just announced? The Corporation has had enough years to arrive at it. It does not seem to be a satisfactory figure taking into account all that will be involved.

Mr. Short

I did not sav that the cost will be covered. I said that the B.B.C.'s costs would be about £500,000 in the year the hon. Gentleman asked about. Clearly, the income at the start will not be significant. It will build up as time passes, especially after the announcement I made yesterday.

Mr. Bryan

Would the Postmaster-General tell us as a matter of policy whether the £5 licence for colour television is to be kept separate from the other licence? In other words, if it more than pays or less than nays, will it be altered? If it makes a profit, will it go into the general funds of the B.B.C.?

Mr. Short

It will go into the general funds of the B.B.C. where it will be kept separate. The two licences will be assessed separately. I will give no undertaking about it being altered one way or the other. As the hon. Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls) pointed out, we really do not know yet how this will work out.