HC Deb 16 February 1967 vol 741 cc777-8
12. Mr. Bryan

asked the Postmaster General what representations he has received from shift workers regarding his decision to continue his restriction of the permitted hours of television broadcasting; and what reply he has sent.

15. Mr. Stratton Mills

asked the Postmaster General what representations he received from commercial television companies prior to the publication of the White Paper on Broadcasting on the question of the extension of broadcasting hours; and why he refused to sanction any such increase in broadcasting time.

Mr. Edward Short

The Independent Television Authority as the public corporation responsible for the service has put representations to me on this subject to the effect that my powers to prescribe the amount of broadcasting time should not be used or, failing that, that I should authorise a large increase in the amount. As the White Paper states, the Government do not consider that any general increase will be justified for the present. I have received two letters from shift workers. In reply, I have explained the Government's views as set out in the White Paper.

Mr. Bryan

May I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to look at this from a viewer's point of view? What are the practical difficulties in allowing more hours of T.V. when the I.T.V. companies are willing to provide them? It one is afraid of representations from the B.B.C., it has, after all, the advantages of two channels and a monopoly in radio.

Mr. Short

I would point out that the number of hours broadcasting per week in this country is double that of the next nearest country in Europe and we have the lowest licence in Europe. 1 do not think that there is any case for a general increase at the moment.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Did the right hon. Gentleman consider this on its merits, or was it part of an arrangement come to by his predecessor with the B.B.C. last March? Was part of that proposal, so as to keep the B.B.C. licence steady, that the independent television companies could not increase their hours, despite the fact that there would be no additional cost to the viewer?

Mr. Short

The chief factor is the use of resources. When we want to develop the television system—and yesterday I announced the biggest development yet introduced—we have to weigh one thing against another.